The temperature in the Antarctic peninsula will increase by 0.5 to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2044 because of climate change, finds a new study.
The projections also showed that precipitation — a threat to ice if it manifests as rain — will likely increase on the peninsula by about 5 per cent to 10 per cent over that same time period.
“We are concerned about these findings. We’ve been seeing overall quite big changes on the peninsula, generally getting warmer and ice shelves and glaciers discharging into the ocean,” said lead author David Bromwich from The Ohio State University.
Since the 1950s, the peninsula, along with the rest of the western part of Antarctica, has been one of the fastest-warming regions on Earth.
And because it is covered in mountains — the highest peak is just over 10,600 feet — standard climate models overlook some of the nuances of how climate change affects the peninsula, the researcher said.
“The issue for the Antarctic peninsula is that it’s this narrow but high mountain range, and these big models spanning the whole continent don’t take that into account. Our goal was to provide more detail in those projections,” he said.
For the study, published in the journal Climate Dynamics, the team studied an analysis of historic and projected simulations from 19 global climate models.
The analysis found that the greatest increases in temperature — about 2 degrees Celsius — were likely to happen in the Antarctic fall and winter, but warmer temperatures projected for summer would cause the most trouble.
That could create a double threat to the ice on the peninsula, the researchers said.
Warmer temperatures also mean that some precipitation that might have previously fallen as snow will likely fall as rain, Bromwich said.