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Antarctic Research Series



  • Ecology—Research—Antarctica—Antarctic Peninsula Region

Index Terms

  • 4215 Oceanography: General: Climate and interannual variability
  • 4227 Oceanography: General: Diurnal, seasonal, and annual cycles
  • 4522 Oceanography: Physical: El Nino
  • 4815 Oceanography: Biological and Chemical: Ecosystems, structure and dynamics



Surface air temperature variations in the western Antarctic Peninsula region

R. C. Smith, S. E. Stammerjohn, and K. S. Baker

Surface air temperature records from several Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) stations are examined. The annual progression of surface air temperatures show an along-peninsula gradient indicative of contrasting influences of maritime versus continental climate regimes. WAP temperature records also show a significant warming trend in mid-winter temperatures, with an increase of 4–5°C over the past half-century (1944–1991). Increased temperature variability in fall and winter is linked to the high interannual variability of sea ice coverage. Linear regression analysis shows a significant (99.9%) anticorrelation between air temperature and sea ice extent, even after accounting for serial correlation in the two time series. There are distinct seasonal lead/lag relationships between temperature and sea ice in this region, which underscore the complexity of polar feedback mechanisms. The more than 45 year Faraday air temperature record shows significant (95% confidence level) low frequency coherence with the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI). In addition, high frequency coherences between WAP air temperatures, WAP sea ice extent and SOI support the hypothesis that not only do extreme SOI events affect WAP climate, but monthly SOI fluctuations may be affecting monthly fluctuations in WAP air temperatures and sea ice extent as well. Because sea ice-temperature-SOI relationships appear to be strongly linked in this region, the WAP is an ideal area to study ecological responses to climate variability.

Citation: Smith, R. C., S. E. Stammerjohn, and K. S. Baker (1996), Surface air temperature variations in the western Antarctic Peninsula region, in Foundations for Ecological Research West of the Antarctic Peninsula, Antarct. Res. Ser., vol. 70, edited by E. E. Hofmann, R. M. Ross, and L. B. Quetin, pp. 105–121, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/AR070p0105.

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