A new daily observational record from Grytviken, South Georgia: exploring 20th century extremes in the South Atlantic

Zoë Thomas, Chris Turney, Rob Allan, Steve Colwell, Gail Kelly, David Lister, Philip Jones, Mark Beswick, Lisa Alexander, Tanya Lippmann, Nicholas Herold, Richard Jones

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13 Citations (Scopus)
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Although recent work has highlighted a host of significant late 20th century environmental changes across the mid to high latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere, the sparse nature of observational records limits our ability to place these changes in the context of long-term (multi-decadal and centennial) variability. Historical records from sub-Antarctic islands offer considerable potential for developing highly resolved records of change. In 1905, a whaling and meteorological station was established at Grytviken on sub-Antarctic South Georgia in the South Atlantic (54°S, 36°W) providing near-continuous daily observations through to present day. Here we report a new, daily observational record of temperature and precipitation from Grytviken, which we compare to regional datasets and historical reanalysis (Twentieth Century Reanalysis; 20CR version 2c). We find a shift towards increasingly warmer daytime extremes commencing from the mid-20th century and accompanied by warmer night-time temperatures, with an average rate of temperature rise of 0.13°C per decade over the period 1907-2016 (p<0.0001). Analysis of these data, and reanalysis products, suggest a change of particular synoptic conditions across the mid to high-latitudes since the mid-20th century, characterised by stronger westerly airflow and associated warm föhn winds across South Georgia. This rapid rate of warming and associated declining habitat suitability has substantial negative implications for biodiversity levels and survival of key marine biota in the region.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1743–1755
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number5
Early online date30 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

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