New ice core record shows West Antarctic climate variability

Dec 06, 2013
Ice core field camp close to the Pine Island Glacier. Credit: Liz Thomas

A 308-year ice core record provides new data on climate variability in coastal West Antarctica and shows that a clear warming trend has occurred in recent decades.

To study climate over the past 3 centuries, British Antarctic Survey's Dr Elizabeth Thomas and a team of Cambridge scientists analyzed stable isotopes in the , which provide a record of past temperatures.

They found that climate variability in coastal West Antarctica is strongly driven by sea surface temperatures and atmospheric pressure in the tropical Pacific.

The authors report that their ice core record shows that the region warmed since the late 1950s at a rate similar to that observed in the Antarctic Peninsula and central West Antarctica.

However, the authors note that this recent warming trend is similar in magnitude to warming and cooling trends that occurred in the mid-nineteenth and eighteenth centuries in their record, indicating that in this coastal West Antarctic location the effects of human-induced climate change in recent years have not exceeded natural climate variability over the past 300 years.

Dr Thomas says, "The new ice core record was drilled on the ice divide closest to Pine Island Glacier, one of the fastest flowing outlet glaciers in West Antarctica. The new record captures in this globally important region and suggests that the observed here since the 1950s is not the largest in the past 300 years."

The authors of the article are Elizabeth Thomas, Thomas Bracegirdle and John Turner of BAS, and Eric Wolff, formerly of BAS but bow of the Department of Earth Sciences, Cambridge University.

Explore further: Earth orbit changes key to Antarctic warming that ended last ice age

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orti
2.1 / 5 (9) Dec 06, 2013
"... the warming observed here since the 1950s is not the largest in the past 300 years."
Interesting. Industrial CFC's, etc. from the northern hemisphere cause an ozone hole there, but no out-of-the-ordinary warming. Entirely different mechanisms? Atmosphere vs. ocean? Or just another data point disputing AGW?
full_disclosure
1.4 / 5 (11) Dec 06, 2013
The money quote…
"However, the authors note that this recent warming trend is similar in magnitude to warming and cooling trends that occurred in the mid-nineteenth and eighteenth centuries in their record, indicating that in this coastal West Antarctic location the effects of human-induced climate change in recent years have not exceeded natural climate variability over the past 300 years."

They can't distinguish between 'human activity' and 'natural variation'….therefore 'natural variation' is indicated.

These guys are soon to be threatened with decapitation from Vendicar A through Z and the likes of the congenital idiots 'Neinsense, Maggnus, NOM, Howhot, etc….etc…etc….

No wonder this article has left the main page soooo fast...
orti
1.6 / 5 (7) Dec 06, 2013
I don't think it even lasted an hour. Such as it is in the pursuit of true settled science.
runrig
3.7 / 5 (6) Dec 06, 2013
The money quote…
"However, the authors note that this recent warming trend is similar in magnitude to warming and cooling trends that occurred in the mid-nineteenth and eighteenth centuries in their record, indicating that in this coastal West Antarctic location the effects of human-induced climate change in recent years have not exceeded natural climate variability over the past 300 years."

They can't distinguish between 'human activity' and 'natural variation'….therefore 'natural variation' is indicated.

These guys are soon to be threatened with decapitation from Vendicar A through Z and the likes of the congenital idiots 'Neinsense, Maggnus, NOM, Howhot, etc….etc…etc….

No wonder this article has left the main page soooo fast...


One of these days you guys may twig that Antarctica is a very isolated and frigid place with its capping Trop/Strat vortex - precluding easy access to warming air except around the peripheries. Likewise the ACC holds warming water at bay.
Maggnus
4.5 / 5 (8) Dec 06, 2013
I thinks it's an excellent article, and excellent work, and gives a nice picture of the climate for this one tiny area of the planet. It does seem to show some lag between the Antarctic and the artic warming, not unexpected considering how different the two areas are.

I'd like to see more work on this particular core, along with a discussion of the effect on the Antarctic arising from the known cooling associated with the ozone hole. Could this cooling explain their finding that the amount of warming is on par with natural variability in this region of the Antarctic?

And as for the two denialists' comments above, maybe taking some time to understand how science works might help you both understand why a study like this one is important to the overall understanding of the Earth's climate, and why it does not provoke the same kind of knee-jerk reaction from those who actually understand science as those who insist on denying for the sake of denying.