Extreme climate hits Antarctica, smashing records, shocking scientists as temperatures soar 50F to 90F degrees above normal. Welcome to climate change’s newest upheaval. But, don’t talk to the scientists about it. They’re speechless.
But, they do tweet: “Antarctic climatology has been rewritten,” tweeted Stefano Di Battista, Antarctic researcher (Source: It’s 70 Degrees Warmer Than Normal in Eastern Antarctica. Scientists are Flabbergasted, The Washington Post, March 18, 2022).
“This event is completely unprecedented and upended our expectations about the Antarctic climate system,” said Jonathan Wille, a researcher studying polar meteorology at Université Grenoble Alpes in France, in an email,” Ibid.
Climate change’s global warming impact has never been so real so widespread as of recent times. Only recently, NOAA reported record methane emissions at 1,900 ppb in the atmosphere for the year 2021. Meanwhile, CO2 at 420 ppm is at a multi-millennial record level. Now, Antarctic temperatures crush all known records ever since 1905.
Throughout the planet from the far north with the Arctic’s record temperature of 38°C (100.4°F) in Verkhoyansk a couple of years ago to the bottom of the planet with Antarctica’s new record temperature change, climate change is noticeably on a roll, setting one record after another after another.
For more evidence of climate change strutting its stuff, not only did Antarctic temperatures soar but also according to the National Snow Ice Data Center/Boulder, on February 25th, 2022 Antarctic sea ice hit a minimum extent of only 741,000 square miles. That’s the first time on satellite record for 43 years that sea ice extent has fallen below 772,000 square miles. (Source: Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis, National Snow & Ice Data Center, March 8, 2022).
It should be noted that even as Antarctic sea ice extent and temperature have a reputation for variability of wide swings, this current 43-year low is, in fact, a new satellite record low, prompting climate scientists to question whether it’s a new trend.
At the center of the massive eastern ice sheet a lonely isolated research station named Vostok Station (Russian) sits at elevation 11,447 feet. The average temperature at the station is around -53°C. The previous warmest temperature at the station of -17.7°C has now been broken by a staggering 15 Celsius. That’s simply remarkable. In 65 years, between March and October temperatures above -30°C have never been recorded, until now in March 2022.
Other Antarctic weather stations, e.g., Concordia Research Station (France and Italy) recorded similar temperature anomalies of up to 65F above average.
The temperature anomaly is the result of an extreme atmospheric river, or a narrow corridor of water vapor, on the continent’s east coast. The atmospheric river dropped heavy rainfall, which likely causes significant melting. Thereafter a heat dome moved into the area.
Meanwhile, the western Antarctic ice sheet is rapidly losing ice mass while portions of the region as well as the Antarctic Peninsula are some of the fastest-warming regions on the planet. For example, West Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier is under observation as it threatens massive destabilization that could trigger rapid flow of glacial ice that would directly impact rising sea levels throughout the world.
The planet’s climate system appears to be entering an era unlike anything ever experienced throughout human history. Nobody knows how this tumultuous era ends but turmoil seems to be the most likely outcome. It is doubtful that nations of the world will react with mitigation efforts soon enough to stop catastrophic climate events like drought, floods, food shortages, and sea level rise. The world’s leaders have a severe case of permanent lethargy. In spite of repeated promises to do something constructive, decades of absolute failure to take meaningful action support this conclusion. Therefore, adaptation to extreme climate events that will certainly threaten life, as events occur, will be the least best, and only possible, course of action. Brace yourself.
Robert Hunziker is a writer from Los Angeles