21 January 2009

Big Climate News This Week

Posted by Dan Satterfield

I was going to write this post tomorrow, since the news is embargoed until then. I had agreed to the embargo, but the BBC has beaten me to the punch, and one of the papers authors has also posted the info online…..so…

A new Paper by Eric Steig, and others has shown that the Antarctic has warmed overall in the last 50 years. The Antarctic Peninsula area is warming very rapidly, and in spite of the cooling in some other areas, the overall affect is a warming continent.

The discrepancy in earlier global climate models over this part of the world, was trumpeted as a reason to doubt the overwhelming science. The usual response to these claims by the science community, was something along the lines of “We really do not know what the temp. is doing in Antarctica”. This was a very true statement. Imagine trying to tell someone what the climate in the USA is doing with 4 reporting stations. One in Chicago, one in LA, and two more in New England. You get the idea.

Eric Steig and Micheal Mann have used surface stations, AND satellite temperature data to reconstruct the changes over the last 50 years. Apparently there is another paper, in press, that will show that the newer climate models are agreeing with this data. The BBC has a very well researched article on it’s main web site about this, and the Wilkins Ice Shelf.  New information also coming out this week shows that the giant Wilkins Ice Shelf in the Antarctic Penninsula is close to breaking up.


The march of Science goes on. We learn more, and more,  each year about how are planet’s climate works. Eric Steig points out in a post in Real Climate, that you cannot make certain assumptions from this paper. Antarctica is getting colder in spots, and it’s not warming equally everywhere. What IS interesting is that these results seem to agree well with what the climate experts expect should be happening.

Science never proves anything. This is nothing more, or less, than another book in the growing library of evidence, that humans are changing our climate. Here is image of the temperature change in the Antarctic over the last 50 years produced by Steig et. al. The redder, the warmer. Blue is cooler.