Essential Science: Severe warming recorded at the South Pole
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article imageEssential Science: Severe warming recorded at the South Pole

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By Tim Sandle     Jul 6, 2020 in Science
New climatology evidence presents some concerning news about the South Pole. Researchers have discovered that the South Pole is warming at a rate three times above the global average. This has occurred across the past 30 years.
The finding that the South Pole is warming faster than any other place on Earth comes from Ohio University. This is attributed to natural tropical climate variability, which is the product of rises in the level of greenhouse gas.
A sign of the extent of warming has been found with studies in the waters. Under glaciers some extremely warm waters have been recorded. In one case the level recorded was more than two degrees above freezing, relating to the water flow beneath the Thwaites Glacier, which is part of the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet.
Carbon storage
There are various forces at work, impacting upon Antarctica and affecting the rise in temperature. For example, a combination of seasonal temperature rises together with the steady destruction of sea ice is leading to increases in the biological productivity of the seas around Antarctica. This happens through processes that extract carbon from the atmosphere and store it within the deep ocean.
NASA Earth Observatory map by Lauren Dauphin  using Reference Elevation Model of Antarctica (REMA) d...
NASA Earth Observatory map by Lauren Dauphin, using Reference Elevation Model of Antarctica (REMA) data from the Polar Geospatial Center at the University of Minnesota.
Melting ice
As well as warming oceans, the Southern Ocean is also the starting point of global sea level rises, which are the product of melting ice.
Within the twenty-first century, based on what has happened around Antarctica alone, it is predicted that global sea level might rise up to three times as much as it did in the previous century, according to state-of-the-art computer models from around the world. While there has been a 19 centimeter rise in sea levels across the past 100 years, the extent of the Antarctic ice-loss may lead to up to 58 centimeter within this century.
Significant losses of ice, for instance have been observed in relation to Pine Island, which is Antarctica's largest glacier. With the glacier, the fast-flowing central trunk has decreased by about a factor of five since 2007.
Mountain range in Antarctica
Mountain range in Antarctica
euphro (CC BY-SA 2.0)
The factors accounting for the rise in seas levels are he thermal expansion of the ocean water under global warming and melting of mountain glaciers.
From white to green
A related climatic issue impacting on Antarctica is the transformation of the visage from snow-topped white to a microscopic triggered green. With this, models predict how the levels of microscopic algae will increase. Greater levels of blooming across the surface of snow along the Antarctic Peninsula coast will see the formation of 'green snow', and this phenomenon (which is beginning to appear already) is predicted to spread across the region as global temperatures increase.
The green scum shown in this image is the worst algae bloom Lake Erie has experienced in decades. Vi...
The green scum shown in this image is the worst algae bloom Lake Erie has experienced in decades. Vibrant green filaments extend out from the northern shore.
Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon
Algae also emit carbon (as part of the photosynthetic process), and at the predicted rate of expansion this is anticipated to generate a carbon sink of around 479 tonnes per year.
New warming rates
With the Ohio research, the climate scientists have discovered that between 1989 and 2018, the South Pole has warmed by approximately 1.8 degrees Celsius over the past 30 years. This equates to a rate of 0.6 degrees Celsius per decade. It is this level of warming which is stands as some three times above the global average.
Robert Swan and his son  Barney will begin an expedition to the South Pole in November  relying only...
Robert Swan and his son, Barney will begin an expedition to the South Pole in November, relying only on renewable technologies.
2041 Climate Force
This level of temperature increase connects strongly with human-triggered (or anthropogenic) warming. Such data signals the importance of concerted global action to address global warming.
Research paper
The new research has been published in the journal Nature Climate Change. The research paper is titled “Record warming at the South Pole during the past three decades.”
Essential Science
This article is the latest entry in Digital Journal’s Essential Science column, where a topical science story is presented each week.
File photo: Donating blood
File photo: Donating blood
Last week, our topic was blood plasma. We looked at experiments based on diluting blood plasma in order to rejuvenate tissue. Through this is may be possible to reverse aging and perhaps lead to the development of a human therapeutic.
The week before we explored the developing power of quantum computing, showcasing new technology from Honeywell which has led to the development of the world’s most powerful quantum computer. The machine is called the H0, and it has reached a quantum volume of 64.
More about Antarctica, South pole, global heating, Global warming, Climate change
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