Heat Wave in Antarctica
Antarctica’s weather has worldwide impacts and can be a ‘canary in the mine’ for patterns of change elsewhere
Antarctica may be isolated from the rest of the continents by the Southern Ocean, but has worldwide impacts. It drives the global ocean conveyor belt, a constant system of deep-ocean circulation which transfers oceanic heat around the planet, and its melting ice sheet adds to global sea level rise.
This summer, Casey Research Station, in the Windmill Islands oasis, experienced its first recorded heatwave. For three days, minimum temperatures exceeded zero and daily maximums were all above 7.5C. On 24 January, its highest maximum of 9.2C was recorded, almost 7C above Casey’s 30-year mean for the month.
The arrival of warm, moist air during this weather event brought rain to Davis Research Station in the normally frigid, ice-free desert of the Vestfold Hills. The warm conditions triggered extensive meltwater pools and surface streams on local glaciers. These, together with melting snowbanks, contributed to high-flowing rivers and flooding lakes.
By February, most heat was concentrated in the Antarctic Peninsula at the northernmost part of the continent. A new Antarctic maximum temperature of 18.4C was recorded on 6 February at Argentina’s Esperanza research station on the peninsula – almost 1C above the previous record. Three days later this was eclipsed when 20.75C was reported at Brazil’s Marambio station, on Seymour Island east of the peninsula.
www.theguardian.com, 31 March 2020