Antarctica is getting warmer

Jan. 23, 2009 at 12:05 AM
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SEATTLE, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Antarctica is getting steadily warmer, disputing previously theories about the continent, U.S. researchers say.

Scientists have long believed the East Antarctic Ice Sheet has been getting cooler, offsetting warming taking place in West Antarctica. However, new data suggest the warming in West Antarctica is greater than the cooling in East Antarctica.

"West Antarctica is a very different place than East Antarctica, and there is a physical barrier, the Transantarctic Mountains, that separates the two," lead author Eric Steig, director of Quaternary Research Center at the University of Washington, said Wednesday in a release.

The findings, published in the journal Nature, are based on a statistical technique that uses data from satellites and from Antarctic weather stations.

"People were calculating with their heads instead of actually doing the math," Steig said. "What we did is interpolate carefully instead of just using the back of an envelope. While other interpolations had been done previously, no one had really taken advantage of the satellite data, which provide crucial information about spatial patterns of temperature change."

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