Almost exactly two three years ago, a prominent paper became a media darling as it, according to the alarmist website Real Climate "appeared to reverse the 'Antarctic cooling' meme that has been a staple of disinformation efforts for a while now."
The Nature paper, by Eric Steig and colleagues, made the cover on the January 22, 2009 issue.
Despite Real Climate's predictable take on the situation, many long-time students of Antarctic climate change (including usn's here at WCR) yawned. It has been known for decades that there is a net warming in Antarctic surface temperature that began during the International Geophysical Year in 1957. However, what is also well known, is that the vast majority of the observed warming in Antarctica took place from the late 1950s through the early 1970s and that since then-during a period going on 40 years now-there has been very little net temperature change over Antarctica taken as a whole.
What the Steig et al. analysis did do, was to alter the generally accepted spatial pattern of the temperature change across Antarctica. Whereas previous studies showed that the warming was largely limited to the Antarctic peninsula region of West Antarctica with vast areas of cooling occurring distributed across the other parts of the continent, the Steig et al. analysis effectively spread the warming across the entire continent, both during the complete period of record since 1957, as well as during the most recent two-to-three decades