From 1976 onwards, the Earth has been warming at a rate faster than it has done in the last 1000 years (Watson 2002). Both empirical studies and models have shown not only that global environmental change is happening, but also that its affects are heterogeneous. While some areas have experienced considerable and rapid warming, others have been less affected. Likewise, precipitation has largely increased in the mid- to high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, although several parts of Africa, Asia, and South America have experienced dramatic declines in rainfall. The Antarctic Peninsula has seen a striking increase in mean annual temperature and rain now falls there, while just to the north of the Antarctic Polar Frontal Zone, warming is generally being accompanied by a substantial decline in mean annual rainfall (as much as a 600 mm decrease in 50 years at Marion
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