Antarctica is likely warming at almost twice the rate of the rest of the world and faster than climate change models are predicting, with potentially far-reaching implications for global sea level rise, according to a scientific study.
The research, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, found Antarctica was warming at a rate of between 0.22˚C and 0.32˚C per decade, compared to 0.18˚C per decade predicted by climate models.
Dr Sarah Jackson, an ice core expert at the Australian National University, who was not involved in the study, said the findings were “deeply concerning”.
“All our projections for future sea level rise use these low rates of warming. Our models might be underestimating the loss of ice that we might get,” she said.
Dr Kyle Clem, a scientist at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, has studied recent record high temperatures at one weather station at the south pole.
“The implications of this study are of particular importance for considering future changes in Antarctic sea ice, terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and potentially even sea level rise,” Clem said.
“If anthropogenic polar amplification is already occurring in the Antarctic that exceeds that simulated by climate models, then future warming will likely be greater than that currently projected by climate models.”