South Pole Is Warming Three Times Faster Than Global Average

by : Lucy Connolly on : 30 Jun 2020 16:28
South Pole Is Warming Three Times Faster Than Global AverageSouth Pole Is Warming Three Times Faster Than Global AveragePA Images

The South Pole has been warming at more than three times the global average over the past three decades, a new study has found.

Scientists have known for years that the outer regions of Antarctica are warming. However, they previously thought the South Pole was isolated from rising global temperatures as a result of it being located deep in Antarctica’s interior.


The study, published by researchers at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, on Monday, June 29, contradicts this. Its results suggest this will have huge implications for the rising global sea levels, marine life in the region and the melting of Antarctic ice sheets.

Melting ice climate changeMelting ice climate changePexels

Published in the journal Nature Climate Change, the study gives an insight into the most remote region on Earth.

‘This highlights that global warming is global and it’s making its way to these remote places,’ Kyle Clem, postdoctoral research fellow in Climate Science at the University of Wellington and lead author of the study, said, as per CNN.


Clem and his team analysed weather station data at the South Pole between the years 1989 and 2018, as well as climate models to examine the warming in the Antarctic interior.

The results showed that over this period, the South Pole had warmed by approximately 1.8°C at a rate of +0.6 °C per decade. In simple terms, it had warmed three times faster than the global average.

South PoleSouth PolePA Images

The scientists argued these warming trends are ‘unlikely’ the result of natural climate variability alone. Instead, the effects of human-made climate change appear to have worked alongside the significant influence natural variability in the tropics has on Antarctica’s climate.


‘Together they make the south pole warming one of the strongest warming trends on Earth,’ Clem wrote for The Guardian.

The team found one cause of the warming to be increasing sea surface temperatures thousands of miles away; over the past 30 years, warming in the western tropical Pacific Ocean meant there was an increase in warm air being carried to the South Pole.

Polar Ice Caps Melting Six Times Faster Than In 1990sPolar Ice Caps Melting Six Times Faster Than In 1990sPexels

However, the team are unable to determine how much this significant warming is down to human-caused warming. ‘The Antarctic interior is one of the few places left on Earth where human-caused warming cannot be precisely determined,’ Clem explained.


This means it’s impossible for the scientists to say whether, or for how long, the warming will continue as the temperature variability is so extreme it currently masks human-caused effects.

Ultimately though, the study was able to show that ‘extreme and abrupt’ climate shifts are part of the Antarctica’s interior, and these will likely continue into the future.

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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: News, Climate Change, Environment, Nature, Now, Science


Nature Climate Change and 2 others
  1. Nature Climate Change

    Record warming at the South Pole during the past three decades

  2. CNN

    The South Pole has been warming at three times the global average over the past 30 years, study says

  3. The Guardian

    South pole warming three times faster than rest of the world, our research shows