Watt about the Antarctic?

Slightly confused about what is being claimed in this recent Watts Up With That (WUWT) post called study of warming of Antarctic peninsula due to ocean and atmospheric circulation patterns. It seems to be suggesting that warming on the Antarctic peninsula is simply due to changes in ocean currents and the Southern Annual Mode, plus Sea Surface Temperatures. I assume that the implication is that it is not a consequence of global warming and is just some kind of non-global-warming influenced natural variation.

What’s confused me is that there was a recent Guardian article reporting some recent British Antarctic Survey results that were indicating that Antarctic ice melting at record rate. I haven’t read the actual papers, but the claim in the article was that

Summer melting at the ice core site today is now at a level that is higher than at any other time over the last 1,000 years. And while temperatures at this site increased gradually in phases over many hundreds of years, most of the intensification of melting has happened since the mid-20th century.

The site was the James Ross Island near the northern tip of the peninsula, so this refers to the Antarctic peninsula. The article went on to say that the Antarctic peninsula has now warmed to a level where even small changes can have a big effect.

Why I remembered the article was that it added that warming in other parts of Antarctica was more complex and couldn’t necessarily be attributed to global warming, but that this was not true for the Antarctic peninsula. The WUWT post seems to indicate something different. Has something changed? Anyone able to clarify?

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2 Responses to Watt about the Antarctic?

  1. Rachel says:

    I don’t think there’s anything controversial in that paper. It’s referring to the Antarctic Peninsula which is just a part of Antarctica. I had a quick cursory glance at it – http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00729.1 – and they say that summertime warming is largely attributed to anthropogenic radiative forcing but the story is not so clear for the other seasons. For the other seasons one explanation is the forcing of tropical sea surface temperatures (SSTs) but they also say that it’s possible the SSTs are themselves a result of anthropogenic forcing.

  2. Yes, I did wonder if it was just that. The WUWT post did seem a little odd in that clearly changes in something (ocean currents, SST, …) has to provide the mechanism for warming the peninsula and so for it to be not a consequence of man-made-global warming one would need to show that these changes are not due to global warming. Simply showing that it was because of changes in SST is not really sufficient.

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