Climate change makes Antarctic summers… cooler

Forty years of global warming have made East Antarctic summers even shorter and more miserably colder than they already were. (Save the wilderness — burn coal now?)

East Antarctica is the vast mass of the Antarctic plateau which was, in theory, going to melt. If that three kilometer thick block of ice isn’t going to melt in summer, when exactly will it?

Remember when the poles were meant to amplify man-made global warming?


These graphs come from a paper that Kenneth Richard at NoTricksZone found. The authors Hsu et al think the cooling trend has a natural explanation (but if it had been warming, of course,  no one would have asked that question). Hsu at al estimate that 20-40% of the trend is due to the Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO). And maybe it is, but they use climate models we know are broken. Curiously they predict the East Antarctic will keep cooling — which may be a first (for the models).

For what it’s worth the MJO is a massive convective atmospheric blob that rains its way from west to east across the Indian and then into the Pacific travelling east at 20 kilometers per hour or so. Over a couple of months it does a lap of the earth. Apparently it has a profound influence on both sides of the world — driving cold winter spells as far away as Canada and the US, and possibly, who knows, in Antarctica too.

But as it happens, the parts of Antarctica that were warming are mostly in West Antarctica and are sitting on top of a chain of volcanoes. The media never seem to mention that.


Hsu et al (2021) East Antarctic cooling induced by decadal changes in Madden-Julian oscillation during austral summer, Vol. 7, no. 26, eabf9903
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abf9903


July 15, 2021 at 12:05PM

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