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Antarctic Temperature Trends

November 8, 2013

By Paul Homewood


I wrote about an SPPI report on historical temperature trends in the Antarctic a few days ago. The report summarised several studies that all concluded that temperatures across most of Antarctica had been falling since the mid 20thC, with the exception of the Antarctic Peninsula.

As most of the studies terminated in the early 2000’s, I thought I would have a look at temperature trends since 2001.

I have selected nine stations that have full data, and give a reasonable geographic spread.


  Longitude Latitude S
Amundsen Scott 0 90
Novolazarevsk 11 E 70
Syowa 39 E 69
Mawson 62 E 67
Vostok 106 E 78
McMurdo 166 E 77
Neumeyer 8 W 70
Rothera (Peninsula) 68 W 67
Byrd Station 119 W 80



The graphs below quite clearly show cooling, in most cases significant, at seven of the nine sites . The only two sites bucking the trend are:-

  • Rothera – this is on the Antarctic Peninsula, and continues the warming trend already identified.
  • McMurdo – it is worth bearing in mind that the report mentioned at the start states:

Doran et al. (2002) examined temperature trends in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica over the period 1986 to 2000, reporting a phenomenal cooling rate of approximately 0.7°C per decade

It is therefore, perhaps, not surprising to see this reversing.


The SPPI report found strong evidence that there has been a cooling trend across the bulk of the Antarctic continent, withy the exception of the Peninsula which has become warmer. Temperature records over the last decade appear to confirm that these trends are still continuing.


Graphs are below:














All temperature from GISS

  1. Paul-82 permalink
    November 9, 2013 1:00 am

    Having had a quick look at the SPPI paper, missing from the discussion, as well as from the above, is that there is some geothermal or volcanic activity in the Antarctic Peninsula region. In Deception Bay, on the Peninsula, there is an area of comparatively warm water, enough for swimming by keen passengers during summer cruise ship visits. The warm patch does move about, probably due to tidal effects. Variations in heat flow over time would affect the apparent climate changes observed.

  2. ChrisM permalink
    November 9, 2013 7:16 am

    I’m not certain if it is still the case but the temperatures at McMurdo in the 80s were taken at a site very much affected by UHI. The place is more like a town in Wyoming in winter (just no gunracks in the F150s) that a pristine piece of Antarctica. McMurdo has been there since mid 50s. Why are the temperature records only the past 12 years.
    It might be interesting to look at a Scott Base comparison. It is only 5k from McMurdo but the other side of the ridge.


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