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Analysis indicates that North and tropical Atlantic warming affects Antarctic climate

The gradual warming of the North and tropical Atlantic Ocean is contributing to climate change in Antarctica, a team of New York University (NYU) scientists supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) has concluded.

Their findings appear in the Jan. 23 edition of the journal Nature.

Their work draws from more than three decades of atmospheric data and shows new ways in which distant regional conditions are contributing to Antarctic climate change.

"Our findings reveal a previously unknown and surprising force behind climate change that is occurring deep in our southern hemisphere: the Atlantic Ocean," says Xichen Li, a doctoral student in NYU's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences and the study's lead author. "Moreover, the study offers further confirmation that warming in one region can have far-reaching effects in another."

NSF is responsible for managing the U. S. Antarctic Program in Antarctica and in the Southern Ocean.

NSF supported the research in part through a collaborative grant made during the International Polar Year 2007-2009 (IPY), during which researchers from 60 nations deployed to the Arctic and Antarctica as part of a global campaign of fieldwork. NSF was the lead U.S. agency for the IPY. NSF's Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences also provided funding, as did NASA.

Over the last few decades, Antarctica has experienced dramatic climate change, with the Antarctic Peninsula, which reaches northward towards South America, exhibiting the strongest warming of any region on the planet.

During its summer, Antarctic changes have been attributed to greenhouse gas increase and stratospheric ozone loss. However, less clear are the forces behind climate changes that occur during its winter. In addition, the effects of these changes during the cold season are complex, adding a layer of difficulty to the efforts to find the atmospheric culprit.

It has

Contact: Peter West
National Science Foundation

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