Story by Maddy Williams / Contributing Writer
Temperatures in Antarctica are 70 degrees warmer than average, which is abnormally high for this region.
The Concordia weather station reached 10 degrees Fahrenheit in Antarctica. According to a tweet from extreme weather tracker Maximiliano Herrera, the Vostok station was slightly above 0 degrees, which beat its record high by roughly 27 degrees.
Alisa Hass, Middle Tennessee State University Assistant Professor of Geography, mentioned that if the same temperature increase happened in Murfreesboro, “which has a high average temperature of 63°F, our temperature would be 133°F.”
Both the poles are experiencing melting and heatwaves, which does not fit the hemispheres’ opposite seasons.
The Arctic is 50 degrees warmer than usual, and the North Pole neared its melting point.
Polar amplification is a major concern caused by warming temperatures.
“Our poles are covered by ice. Since ice is white, it reflects a lot of sunlight and heat. However, as the ice melts, more bare ground and ocean is exposed, both of which absorb sunlight and heat. This will warm the temperatures at the poles as much as five times faster than other areas on earth,” explained Hass.
NPR stated that it is unknown if these heat waves in Antarctica are caused by climate change, but the Arctic’s rapid warming is caused by climate change since it is warming two to three times faster than the rest of the world.
Others argue that Antarctica’s rapid temperature increases are caused by anthropogenic global warming.
“Antarctica has seen a 3°C (5.4°F) rise in air temperature since the late 1800s, with most of this warming occurring after 1950. In comparison, the average temperature across the entire earth has increased by about 1.1°C (2°F) in that same time frame,” said Hass.
Snow, rain and melting have been occurring across Antarctica, and the last heatwave caused the fourth wettest day in more than four decades, according to the Regional Atmosphere Model.
Coastal precipitation accumulated to about 50 millimeters, or one inch. Antarctica rarely sees more than a few millimeters per year.
Atmospheric rivers contributed to the high temperatures by creating a heat dome in Antarctica. In addition, moisture intrusion trapped warm, moist air in the Antarctic interior.
The Guardian said that Arctic temperatures have increased by one-degree Celsius in the past decade.
According to the European Space Agency, sea ice in the Arctic is thinning twice as quickly, and the last fully intact ice shelf melted in 2020.
Ice melting at the Poles causes dark water exposure, absorbing more of the sun’s energy. This, in turn, increases warming.
Sea ice in Antarctica has also decreased due to rising temperatures.
Researchers worry that Antarctica will be the next Arctic, and they fear ice shelves in Antarctica will begin to weaken rapidly.
This warming does not affect only Antarctica and the polar regions but also the rest of the world.
“Melting the huge amount of ice on Antarctica will cause sea level rise worldwide, causing flooding of coastal areas where humans currently reside. In general, the huge amount of ice on Antarctica tends to help regulate the earth’s climate. However, when we start to remove ice, more heat and energy is kept at the surface, and this can cause further global warming,” Hass said.
Not only is a sea-level rise a concern, but ocean warming is also a primary concern as Antarctic temperatures warm.
Hass explained that “oceans take in CO2 and are also warming. Warm oceans hold less CO2 and will outgas CO2 back into the atmosphere, potentially causing further global warming and changes in climate elsewhere throughout the world.”
These temperature increases are also impacting ecosystems to significant degrees.
“Ocean temperatures are rising, and the water is acidifying, which is likely to cause ocean species will migrate or go extinct. For instance, Antarctic krill are important in the area’s food chain and are losing much of their habitat because of warming water, and the populations are declining. Similarly, with melting, it is likely that land species (e.g., penguins) will be migrating to find new habitats. New plant species can take hold in this area,” said Hass.
There is not much an average citizen can do to prevent Antarctica from experiencing these temperature spikes, but that does not leave citizens without hope.
“The best thing we can do is to reduce the cause of global warming – anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing the cause of the warming is really the only way to reduce the long-term effects of warming on Antarctica,” said Hass.
Photo via Pexels.
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