Island in Antarctica loses almost a quarter of snow due to a nine-day heat wave

  • A scorching nine-day heat wave was felt across Antarctica this February with temperatures rising up to a record-breaking 18.3°C (64.9°F)
  • This resulted into a 20% loss of snow in Eagle Island located at the northeastern peninsula of the icy continent
  • Experts also noted their concern about the alarming situation particularly on how quickly the ice melted

Antarctica is not as cold as it was before.  This was confirmed after experts revealed a dramatic ice melting in the continent as seen from the recent satellite images of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Earlier this February, weather stations have also logged the hottest temperature ever recorded on the mainland, placing it at 18.3°C (64.9°F). The scorching heat wave lasted for nine days which resulted into a massive 20% loss of ice and astonishingly quick formation of melt ponds in Eagle Island located at the northeastern peninsula of Antarctica.

Scenic View Of Snow Capped Mountains Under Cloudy Sky
Public Domain Image

Because of this, experts couldn’t help but to raise their concern over the alarming situation.

“I haven’t seen melt ponds develop this quickly in Antarctica,” Mauri Pelto, a geologist at Nichols College in Massachusetts, told NASA’s Earth Observatory.

Pelto also noted that it is not typical for Antarctic weather patterns to experience persistent high temperatures significantly above freezing.

“You see these kinds of melt events in Alaska and Greenland, but not usually in Antarctica,” he added.

Nevertheless, these situations have become more common recently especially since the snow pack in Eagle Island melted for over 10 centimeters or 4 inches in the span of just a few days.

“If you think about this one event in February, it isn’t that significant,” said Pelto. “It’s more significant that these events are coming more frequently.”

Person Standing Beside Body of Water
Public Domain Image

Meanwhile, in a Twitter post, climate scientist Xavier Fettweis also plotted the amount of meltwater that reached the ocean from the Antarctic peninsula. His findings then showed that the heat wave was the highest contributor to sea level rise this summer.

“Just to give you an idea, I have plotted the amount of meltwater reaching ocean from Peninsula as simulated by MAR forced by GFS. Although the absolute numbers need to be confirmed, the recent warm event was well the highest sea level contribution of this summer,” he explained.

In an online report, Science Alert mentioned that “this isn’t even the first heat wave this season, but represents the third major melt event of the 2019-2020 Southern Hemisphere summer, with both November and January also suffering from exceptionally warm weather.”


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