The air over Antarctica is warming even faster than in other parts of the world, according to an analysis of 30 years of weather balloon data.
While surface warming has been reported in parts of Antarctica, this is the first report of broad-scale climate change across the whole continent, the British Antarctic Survey says in Friday's issue of the journal Science.
The weather balloon data show a warming of 0.9 degree to 1.3 degree Fahrenheit per decade over the last 30 years. By contrast, the average worldwide temperature has risen 0.2 degree per decade in that time, according to the paper.
Detailed records from the weather balloons launched at nine stations around the continent, including Russian records, have only recently become available, the researchers said.
The research team led by John Turner reported that they could not provide a definite cause for the warming, but added that the observed increases are what would be expected as a result of warming caused by greenhouse gases trapping heat from the sun in the atmosphere.