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Friday, March 31, 2006

Antartica: The Balloon Goes Up

Scientists using data obtained via the deployemnt of weather balloons have found that that the air above the entirety of Antarctica has warmed by as much as 0.70 degree Celsius per decade - more than was previously thought - during the winter months since the end of the 1950s.

John Turner of the British Antarctic Survey is quoted as saying that:

"The rapid surface warming of the Antarctic Peninsula and the enhanced global warming signal over the whole continent shows the complexity of climate change......Greenhouse gases could be having a bigger impact in Antarctica than across the rest of the world and we don't understand why."

The authors are at pains to point out that they cannot ascribe a particular cause to the warming, although they have ruled-out several potential explanations, including heat transfer from other regions. What they cannot say is whether the change is really due to the increased presence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere or is the result of natural variations in Antarctica's climate system.

Part of the problem may simply be the inadequacy of our exiting models, so their next step, as they say, "is to try to improve the models."