22 Jan 2009

Study shows Antarctica warming, not cooling

9:22 am on 22 January 2009

Antarctica is reportedly getting warmer rather than cooling.

A review by US scientists of satellite and weather records for Antarctica, showed that freezing temperatures had risen by about 0.5 Celsius (0.8 Fahrenheit) since the 1950s.

The continent contains 90% of the world's ice.

Until now, scientists have generally reckoned that warming has been restricted to the Antarctic Peninsula beneath South America.

In the latest edition of the journal Nature, they say "the area of warming is much larger than the region of the Antarctic Peninsula," adding that it extended across West Antarctica to the south.

This warming was described as "difficult to explain" without linking it to manmade emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly from burning fossil fuels.

Ten ice sheets on the Antarctic Peninsula have receded or collapsed since the 1990s.

The Nature study compared temperatures measured by satellites in the past 25 years with 50-year records from 42 Antarctic weather stations, mostly on the coast. Scientists then deduced temperatures back 50 years.