Last updated October 10, 2018

Warming of the Antarctic ice-sheet surface since the 1957 International Geophysical Year

  • Shows that significant warming extends well beyond the Antarctic Peninsula to cover most of West Antarctica, an area of warming much larger than previously reported
  • Finds that West Antarctic warming exceeds 0.1 °C per decade over the past 50 years, and is strongest in winter and spring
  • Finds that, although this is partly offset by autumn cooling in East Antarctica, the continent-wide average near-surface temperature trend is positive
  • Simulations using a general circulation model reproduce the essential features of the spatial pattern and the long-term trend
  • Suggests that neither can be attributed directly to increases in the strength of the westerlies
  • Concludes that regional changes in atmospheric circulation and associated changes in sea surface temperature and sea ice are required to explain the enhanced warming in West Antarctica