NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Scientists Say Antarctica Is Cooling, Not Warming

January 14, 2002

Parts of Antarctica have cooled sharply in recent years, according to a study published online by Nature, a British weekly science journal. The research was led by Peter Doran of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The finding punches holes in the doomsday prediction that the frozen continent faces imminent meltdown from global warming. It also counters fears that a breakup of the continent's ice cap will result in sea levels rising dramatically around the globe.

  • Measurements taken by weather stations in the McMurdo Dry Valleys -- the largest ice-free area in Antarctica -- show that on average this region cooled by 0.125 Fahrenheit a year between 1986 and 2000.
  • Scientists found the cooling was especially strong during the autumn and summer seasons, and they theorize it is due to a complex interplay between ocean currents.
  • The distorted view that the continent is warming might be traced to the fact that most weather monitoring stations are based in the Antarctic Peninsula -- the tongue of land projecting northward from the continent toward South America -- an area which is, indeed, warming dramatically, Doran says.

He says that the Antarctic findings don't conflict with other theories of global warming, since he believes the other continents are warming.

Source: Agence France-Presse, "Cooler Antarctica Foils Meltdown Forecasts," Washington Times, January 14, 2002.


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