Climate Change in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions in the past week has stunned researchers. The temperature in regions of eastern Antarctica soared 50 to 90F above normal. They say that warming at this level could become normal as the planet runs headlong into a climate crisis. Researchers equated such a change with the heatwave that hit the Pacific Northwest in June, which they say would have been impossible without climate change caused by humans.
Read: Climate Change Overview Of 2021
In Antarctica, Concordia station recorded a record high temperature of -11.8C (11.76F). Vostok station in inland Princess Elizabeth Land recorded a high of -7.7C (0.14F), surpassing the previous high by 15C (59F).
Simultaneously, the North Pole experienced a similar high with some stations reporting temperatures that were 30C (86F) above normal. Previous records of warming were broken in Greenland, Norway, and Franz Josef Land in the Russian archipelago.
Warming In Autumn More Disturbing
Antarctica researchers from the University of Wisconsin, Matt Lazzara and Linda Keller have reported that such warming is more disturbing when one considers that March marks the beginning of Antarctica’s autumn season. During this time, Antarctica loses sunlight at around 25 minutes each day.
The warming in Antarctica is being attributed to extremely warm atmospheric weather. It is a narrow water vapor corridor in the skies over the east coast. Computers models reveal that this atmospheric river made landfall between Casey Station and Dumont d’Urville on Tuesday. It dropped large quantities of warm rainfall, leading to an unprecedented rate of melting. The moisture formed by this rain and storm diffused, spreading across the continent. A simultaneous ‘heat dome,’ a high-pressure blocking system moved over east Antarctica, trapping the moisture. The warming within this heat dome reached intense levels and was 5 standard deviations above normal temperatures.
Strong winds coming in from Australia were adding to the unusual warming conditions in the South Pole.
Warming Causes Lowest Level Of Sea Ice On Record In Antarctica
The warming has caused a record fall in sea ice. Much of what is sea ice at this time of the year has been turned into open oceans. The temperature anomaly varies between 15C to 40C. This warming pattern started on 15th March 2022 and is persisting.
The lack of long periods of record for this region has made it difficult to compare it with records. Professor Matt King of the Center for Excellence in Antarctic Science in Australia said that such events would be normal in the coming years as the climate crisis becomes deeper. With carbon emissions increasing, such weather patterns could become normal.
Temperatures in the Arctic region have increased at an average of 1C over the last 10 years. The Canadian Arctic and Northern Siberiaare warming at a faster rate of 3 times the normal. The Russian Arctic recorded high temperatures reaching 38C during the 2020 heatwave in the Northern Hemisphere.
Consequences Of Such Unparalleled Warming
Professor Andrew Mackintosh of Monash University said that this extreme weather event was an instance of atmospheric warming over the Antarctic ice shelves.
Persistence in the warming would weaken the ice shelves, the ice sheets which jut out of the continent and float over the oceans. They have a substantial role in locking inland ice.
Losing these ice shelves would cause grounded ice to flow faster out into the sea and cause a rise in sea levels, says Mackintosh.
Antarctica could be in for the fate that has befallen the Arctic region where there have been multiple degrees of warming and persisting high temperatures. The last intact Canadian Arctic ice shelf collapsed during the extraordinary warming in 2020.
This warming is leading to a vicious cycle as the exposed dark waters absorb more heat and accelerate the process of warming in both the poles.