Unprecedented Heatwave Grips Eastern Antarctica
During this unprecedented heatwave, temperatures in Eastern Antarctica soared to approximately 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 degrees Fahrenheit) above the monthly average. March 18, 2022, marked the peak of this event, with temperatures rising to -10C (-14F), a stark contrast to the -54C (-65.2F) average for March.
What made this heatwave truly exceptional was its duration. Temperatures remained above the previous March record of -31C (-23.8F) for over three consecutive days, including during nighttime.
Unusual Air Circulation Patterns
Researchers investigating this remarkable occurrence identified unusual air circulation patterns near Australia as the driving force behind the heatwave. In just four days, a warm air mass from Southern Australia managed to penetrate East Antarctica, a phenomenon described as exceptionally rapid by Edward Blanchard-Wrigglesworth, the study’s author.
Connection to Climate Change
The study highlighted the role of climate change in intensifying the heatwave. It revealed that climate change made the heatwave approximately two degrees Celsius (3.6F) warmer, with the potential for future heatwaves at the end of the 21st century to be an additional five to six degrees Celsius (9-10.8F) warmer.
Impact on Sea Ice
The heatwave coincided with record sea ice minima in February 2022. However, the study noted that sea surface temperature anomalies in the Southern Ocean had a minimal effect on the heatwave’s magnitude.
The study’s findings come in the wake of alarming reports about emperor penguins facing severe threats in West Antarctica due to warming. As sea ice continues to erode due to rising global temperatures, these iconic creatures are experiencing dire consequences, including drowning or freezing to death.
Implications for the Future
The increasing frequency of such extreme climate events over the next 50 to 100 years could trigger unforeseen consequences, emphasizing the urgency of addressing climate change.
Category: Environment Current Affairs