East Antarctica this week recorded temperatures of more than 30°C above normal, an “absolute record”, experts reported on Twitter.
The Franco-Italian Concordia research base, installed in dome C of the Antarctic plateau at more than 3,000 meters of altitude, registered last Friday a “heat” of 11.5 ° C below zero, “an absolute record for all months combined, surpassing 13.7°C below zero on December 17, 2016,” said Etienne Kapikian of Météo-France, the French National Meteorological Service.
Despite the fact that temperatures should have dropped with the end of the southern summer, the Dumont d’Urville base, located on the coast of Adélie Land, set the record for the mildest month of Marchwith +4.9°C, and a minimum temperature of +0.2°C on March 18.
“Frost-free days are occasional (in Dumont d’Urville), but they have never occurred after February 22 (in 1991),” said Gaëtan Heymes of Météo-France.
The expert described a “historically mild event over the east” of the frozen continent, with temperatures 30 to 35°C above seasonal norms.
“This is the time when temperatures should drop rapidly, as the summer solstice occurs in December”, said Jonathan Wille, a researcher at the Institute of Environmental Geosciences in Grenoble.
“This heat wave in Antarctica is changing what we thought was possible for the Antarctic climate,” he added.
For its part, the Terra Nova coastal base was well above freezing at 7 degrees Celsius.
This caught officials at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, by surprise, ice center scientist Walt Meier said.
“They are opposite seasons. You don’t see the north and south (poles) melting at the same timeMeier told Associated Press Friday night. “It’s definitely an unusual occurrence.” “It’s pretty impressive,” Meier added.
“Wow. I have never seen anything like this in Antarctica.said University of Colorado ice scientist Ted Scambos, who recently returned from an expedition to the continent.
“It’s not a good sign when you see that kind of stuff happening,” said University of Wisconsin meteorologist Matthew Lazzara.
Lazzara monitors temperatures at Dome C-ii in East Antarctica and recorded -10 degrees Celsius last Friday, where normal is -43 degrees Celsius: “That’s a temperature you should see in January, not March. January is summer there. that’s dramatic”.
Both Lazzara and Meier said that what happened in Antarctica is probably just a random weather event and not a sign of climate change. But if it happens again or repeatedly then it could be something to worry about and part of global warming.they said.
The Antarctic heat wave was first reported by Washington Post. The Antarctic continent as a whole on Friday was about 4.8 degrees Celsius warmer than the baseline temperature between 1979 and 2000, according to the Climate Reanalyzer at the University of Maine, based on meteorological models from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
At the same time, the Arctic as a whole was 3.3 degrees warmer last Friday than the average from 1979 to 2000.
Compared, the world as a whole was only 0.6 degrees Celsius above the average from 1979 to 2000. Globally, the average from 1979 to 2000 is about 0.3 degrees Celsius warmer than the 20th century average.
Antarctica set a record for the lowest summer sea ice, records going back to 1979, and it shrank to 1.9 million square kilometers at the end of February, the Snow and Ice Data Center reported.
What likely happened was “a great atmospheric river” pumped in warm, moist air from the Pacific to the south.Meier said.
And in the Arctic, which has been warming two to three times faster than the rest of the world and is considered vulnerable to climate change, warm air from the Atlantic was reaching north off the coast of Greenland.
Although at the time an event occurs it cannot be attributed to climate change, one of the clearest signs of global warming is the increase in the number and intensity of heat waves.
The poles are warming even faster than the planet averagewhich has increased on average by around 1.1°C since the pre-industrial era.
(With information from AFP and AP)
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