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Significant Increase in Summer Melt Season on the Antarctic Peninsula

April 02, 2013; 7:26 PM

Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) have found that there has been a significant increase in the length of the summer melt season on the Antarctic Peninsula over the past 60 years.

The Antarctic Peninsula. Image courtesy of NASA.

This increase in the melt season has been linked to the rapid break-up of ice shelves in the area and rising sea level, according the the BAS press release from last week.

The scientific team, which was lead by Dr. Nick Barrand analyzed data from 30 weather stations on the peninsula and found a significant increase in the length of the melting season at most of the stations with the longest temperature record.

The team also looked at satellite data collected by a a scatterometer. The scatterometer uses microwave reflections from the ice sheet to detect the presence of meltwater.

The team found that several major ice shelf breakup events between 1999 and 2009 coincided with longer than usual melt seasons.

Temperatures along the Antarctic Peninsula have risen by up to 3 degrees C. ( 5.4 F.) over the past 60 years, which is three times higher than the global average. The main cause of this warming was found to be a result of increasing local westerly winds, which are causing warmer air from the ocean to be pushed up and over the peninsula, according to the report.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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