The South Pole is warming at a rate three times faster than the rest of the globe. According to a recent analysis of more than 60 years of weather station data, warmer ocean temperatures in the tropical western Pacific have increased warm air currents directly over the South Pole, warming it by more than 3.3°F since 1989. These warmer waters thousands of miles away are causing a change in atmospheric pressure, pushing warm air over this region. Researchers believe global warming has played a role by affecting air circulation patterns, though they’re uncertain by how much.
The most worrisome trend in Antarctica is its coastline, which is in imminent danger. Seaside glaciers are melting away from the bottom up, as warmer ocean waters seep into the ice. So while scientists are unclear of how much the warming of the South Pole is due to tropical weather cycles and how much can be attributed to climate change, they are confident about the role of human activity on these melting glaciers, and that these melting glaciers are causing potentially catastrophic global sea level rise.
While we can’t control all weather patterns, this fact just reinforces that we must focus on doing what we can. Stopping glacier melt requires lowering ocean temperatures, which means stopping greenhouse gas emissions. The future of this planet depends on what we do now.