After high temperatures recorded in Antarctica, NASA images show continent's brown barren land

The readings that were taken by the base still needs to be verified by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and that is supposed to take months.


Images from NASA’s Earth Observatory shows the glaciers in Antarctica are melting because of uncharacteristically warm weather in the continent.

On 6 February, a research station in Antarctica, the Esperanza Base, recorded temperatures of 18.3°C on the northern tip of Antarctica. These high temperatures lasted till 13 February.

Images were taken by the Operational Land Imager on the Landsat 8 on 4 and 13 February show the amount of ice that melted during this period. The images are focused on the ice cap of Eagle Island.

About 20 percent of seasonal snow that was accumulated on the island had melted in this one event. Huge patches of barren brown rock underneath have become visible

“I haven’t seen melt ponds develop this quickly in Antarctica,” Mauri Pelto, a glaciologist at Nichols College who observed this melting said in a statement. “You see these kinds of melt events in Alaska and Greenland, but not usually in Antarctica.”

He also said, “Such persistent warmth was not typical in Antarctica until the 21st century, but it has become more common in recent years.”

Other than the usual suspect of climate change and global warming, the Earth Observatory’s statement on the event also points to some meteorological elements that might have aided in this melting.

A ridge of high pressure was centred over Cape Horn that allowed warm temperatures to build and it reached Antarctica because the Southern Hemisphere Westerlies were not in their usual element. The strong Foehn winds that are known to be dry and warm also might have bought with them warm air that are resulted in the glaciers melting.

The readings that were taken by the base still needs to be verified by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and that is supposed to take months.

“Everything we have seen thus far indicates a likely legitimate record,” said Randall Cerveny, who researches records for the organization.

“A formal decision on whether or not this is a record is likely to be several months away,” said Jonathan Fowler, another WMO spokesman.

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