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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 03/ 5/2010

Tracking the South Pole's 'puzzling' temperatures

By Ann Posegate

2009 warmest year on record despite overall cooling

* Here come the 50s: Full Forecast | Varying predictability of snow *

CWG's Ann Posegate was part of a group of journalists selected by the National Science Foundation to travel to Antarctica in January and report on weather, climate and environmental science research going on there. In this video, she interviews South Pole meteorology manager Tim Markle. Read more about Ann's trip from previous posts.

Video courtesy of the National Environmental Education Foundation, available for download here.

By Ann Posegate  | March 5, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  International Weather, Posegate  
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Comments

Generally the coldest weather station in Antarctica is not the South Pole but the Russian station at Vostok, around 12,000 feet altitude. Temperatures at Vostok can drop as low as -120F during the Antarctic winter. This compares to -90F at Verkhoyansk or Oymyakon during a Siberian winter.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | March 5, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I don't mean to nit pick. I swear. But you wrote, "2009 warmest year on record despite overall cooling" and that seems incongruous. If there is "overall cooling", doesn't that by definition mean that it was at some point warmer? And if it was warmer, how can that be compatible with the first part of your sentence, "2009 warmest year on record"?

It is as if you strung together two mutually exclusive concepts in one sentence.

"2009 warmest year on record" seems incompatible with the second half, "despite overall cooling".

Just my humble opinion.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | March 5, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Q - The video points out short-term warmth, long-term cooling. Perhaps the title should have read "2009 warmest year on record despite long-term cooling."

Posted by: Ann-CapitalWeatherGang | March 5, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

The only comment I have to take issue with (If you even want to put it that way), is the idea that the South Pole is the only location on Antarctica currently witnessing a long-term cooling trend. The McMurdo Dry Valleys have also been cooling, at an average rate of 1.23 Degrees Fahrenheit a Decade (Since 1986), and most of it occurs during the Southern Hemispheric Summer (Specifically, from December through February). The last time they had a significantly cooler period there, was 1,200 years ago.

I believe that most of this has to do with oceanic currents, especially since the greatest concentration of the alleged warming on the Antarctic continent is emanating from the peninsula region, not the landlocked, plateau regions.

Posted by: TheAnalyst | March 5, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

I would like to point out that in the video Mr. Markle points out that they have only been measuring temperature at the South Pole since 1957. So they only have 53 years (or less) of temperature measurements for the South Pole.

I would like to put that in perspective.

The age of our planet is generally considered to be somewhere around 4.5 billion years. That is 4,500,000,000 years.

There are 31,557,600 seconds in one year.
There are 3,155,760,000 seconds in 100 years.

Given the age of our planet, our amount of measured temperature at the South Pole, 57 years, would be the equivalent of observing a 100 year old man for 37 seconds.

How much do you think you would know about a 100 year old man if you were able to observe him for 37 seconds?

How relevant do you think the information you obtained in that 37 seconds would be? What if during the time you observed him, he had a rare occurrence of heart burn? Or indigestion?

If you were a doctor, would you be confident predicting his future based upon only 37 seconds of history?

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | March 8, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

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