Out From the Cold
While average global temperatures are on the way up, Antarctica has cooled overall in the last few decades, a trend that has puzzled scientists. To make matters more baffling, a small peninsula of the continent has simultaneously been warming 10 times faster than the rest of the world. Now scientists are speculating that the region’s strange temperature patterns may be tied to the ozone hole, which opens up above Antarctica every spring. Writing in today’s issue of the journal Science, David Thompson of Colorado State University and Susan Solomon of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say the hole may be increasing the strength of winds that circle around Antarctica, trapping cold air over the South Pole. The warming peninsula, however, lies outside of the reach of the vortex, according to the scientists.