Nick Webb takes a closer look at the climate concerns surrounding Greenland and Antarctica.
Photo of Derek Oyen
On 6th February 2020, scientists recorded temperatures in Antarctica equalling those of Los Angeles on the same day: Esperanza Base, Eagle Island recorded the temperature of 18.4°C (64.9°F). This coincided with the island’s day of peak ice-melting: one inch in a single day, and four inches in the ensuing week.
Glaciologist at Nichols College, Mauri Pelto, who observed the event, said “I haven’t seen melt ponds develop this quickly in Antarctica”.
The extreme melt led to a loss of 20% of Eagle Island’s seasonal snow in a single event, the third such major melting of the 2020 Antarctic Winter.
Persistent warm weather such as this has not been widely seen in Antarctica in the 21st Century, to which NASA scientists assess that a number of weather conditions have combined to create abnormally high temperatures.
“If you think about this one event in February, it isn’t that significant,” said Pelto. “It’s more significant that these events are coming more frequently”.