From: European Geosciences Union
Published May 18, 2017 01:27 PM

Flat Antarctica — Land height could help explain why Antarctica is warming slower than the Arctic

Temperatures in the Arctic are increasing twice as fast as in the rest of the globe, while the Antarctic is warming at a much slower rate. A new study published in Earth System Dynamics, a journal of the European Geosciences Union, shows that land height could be a “game changer” when it comes to explaining why temperatures are rising at such different rates in the two regions.

Climate models and past-climate studies show that, as the Earth warms in response to an increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, temperatures rise faster at the poles than in other parts of the planet. This is known as polar amplification. But this amplified warming is not the same at both poles.

“On average, warming for the entire Antarctic continent has been much slower than Arctic warming so far. Moreover, climate models suggest that, by the end of this century, Antarctica will have warmed less compared to the Arctic,” says Marc Salzmann, a researcher at the Institute for Meteorology, University of Leipzig in Germany.

A possible cause for the accelerated Arctic warming is the melting of the region’s sea ice, which reduces the icy, bright area that can reflect sunlight back out into space, resulting in more solar radiation being absorbed by the dark Arctic waters. Scientists believe this is an important contribution to warming in the region, but it’s not the only one.

Read more at European Geosciences Union

Photo credit: NASA/Michael Studinger via Wikimedia Commons

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