The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is warming at twice the rate previously thought, say scientists who have teased the information from more than 50 years of temperature data at Byrd Station, in the center of the ice. The average temperature at that station has risen 4.3 degrees F (2.4 degrees C) since 1958, which is triple the warming rate of most of the planet and on par with the very fastest warming parts of the world.
Of particular concern is that the warming is partially taking place in the summer months. That's when the already seasonal warmth, plus the new higher average air temperatures, combine and increase the likelihood of major melting events that destabilize the ice shelves. Those shelves hold back a lot of Antarctic glacial ice from reaching the sea, explained Ohio State University's David Bromwich, the lead author on the study, which was published in the latest issue of Nature Geoscience.