Antarctica and Arctic Suffer Record Heat Waves

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Antarctica
Courtesy of Daniel Enchev (Flickr CC0)

Both polar caps experienced record temperatures in the past few weeks. The thermometer registered a spike of 70-degrees F (40 C) above the average. in Eastern Antarctica. Some areas of the Arctic experienced more than 50-degrees F (30 C) warmer than normal.

Scientists are shocked about the heatwave that demolished records. “This event is completely unprecedented and upended our expectations about the Antarctic climate system,” wrote researcher Jonathan Wille, reports The Washington Post.

As the South Pole heads into autumn, the region’s weather stations saw shattered records on Friday. At Concordia Station, 2 miles high (3,234 meters) recorded 10-degrees F (minus 12.2 C), which reflects a 70-degree increase. Another mile higher is the Vostok Station. The temperature barely hit 0-degrees (-17.7 C). The coastal Terra Nova Base reached a high of 44.6 F (7 C), well above freezing.

The high temperature at the North Pole surprised officials at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSDIC) in Boulder, Colorado. With the temperature 50-degrees higher than normal, areas in the region were melting and that is really unusual for this time of year, explained Walt Meier, a scientist at the NSDIC, according to NBC News.

Antarctica
Courtesy of Christopher Michel (Wikimedia CC0)

Antarctica and the Arctic are opposite seasons. “You don’t see the north and the south (poles) both melting at the same time. It’s definitely an unusual occurrence,” Meier added.

It is “not a good sign when you see that sort of thing happen” explained University of Wisconsin meteorologist, Matthew Lazzara. He monitors the temperature at Dome C-ii in East Antarctica where it was 14-degrees F (minus 10 C) on Friday. By comparison, the normal is minus 45 F (minus 43 C), and that is what is expected in January, not March, Lazzara points out, according to NBC News. “It’s pretty stunning,” he added.

The extremely high temperatures in Antarctica are likely a random weather event rather than a sign of climate change, both Lazzara and Meier said. However, if it happens again or repeatedly then the experts will reevaluate what is happening in the North and South Poles.

Written by Cathy Milne-Ware

Sources:

The Washington Post: It’s 70 degrees warmer than normal in eastern Antarctica. Scientists are flabbergasted. By Jason Samenow and Kasha Patel
NBC News: A heat wave and snowfall: Why researchers are puzzled by Antarctica’s recent weather; by Evan Bush
NBC News: Antarctica, Arctic undergo simultaneous freakish extreme heat

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Daniel Enchev’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image by Christopher Michel Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License

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