Data from UAH Version 6.0 show the South Polar region to be unique in that it has a Pause, if not very mild cooling, for the whole of the satellite record, since December 1978. In this post I dig in a little deeper, and also look at surface data from Australia’s Antarctic bases.
Fig.1: Monthly TLT for the South Polar region (60- 85 S)
Fig. 2: Three Monthly TLT
Both plots show no evidence of any warming. However, Land areas are warming:
Fig. 3: SP Land: 3 month means
While the Ocean area is cooling:
Fig. 4: SP Oceans: 3 month means
Summers are warming:
Fig. 5: South Polar Summers (Yearly)
While winters are cooling rapidly:
Fig. 6: South Polar Winters
Especially Ocean winters, when the sea ice is at its greatest and thickest extent.
Fig.7: SP Ocean Winters
Perhaps the sea ice insulates the atmosphere from the water below the ice? If so, in summer, with sea ice extent much reduced, the atmosphere above the ocean should be warmed much more than above the land, which is almost totally covered by ice. Let’s check:
Fig.8: SP Ocean Summers
Fig.9: SP Land Summers
Nope- TLT above land area is warming at four times the rate of ocean areas.
It’s not a great mystery. Here’s why.
We should not read too much into whether individual months create records or not, nor should we stress about the seasonal differences. Here’s an example of individual Octobers.
Fig.10: Octobers from 1979-2015
Note the rising and falling pattern: a series of below average Octobers is followed by a series of above average Octobers. A trend using only Octobers would show warming, as the record starts with below average Octobers and ends with above average. (Just like some global datasets!)
These patterns are evident, but with different values, in all months, which is why winters appear to be cooling and summers appear to be warming.
Fig.11: SP Ocean Junes from 1979-2015
The most we can say is that the long term trend of ALL months shows no evidence of any warming, i.e. a Pause.
So is this just an artefact of the fairly short satellite record? We can check against surface data from Australia’s Antarctic stations at Mawson and Davis. (There is insufficient overlap to make a useful splice between closed and open sites at Casey.) These stations are on the coast far from the Antarctic Peninsula.
Fig. 12: Monthly mean temperatures, Mawson Base
There is a Pause, or slight cooling, over the past 62 years.
Fig. 13: Monthly mean temperatures, Davis Base
At Davis, a Pause, or slight warming, over the past 47 years.
The Pause in the South Polar region is real.