Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Antarctica Experiences First Known Heat Wave

Climate
Penguins are seen near the Great Wall station in Antarctica, Feb. 9, days after the continent measured its hottest temperature on record at nearly 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Xinhua / Liu Shiping / Getty Images

By Richard Connor

Scientists have recorded Antarctica's first documented heat wave, warning that animal and plant life on the isolated continent could be drastically affected by climate change.


Australian Antarctic Program researchers recorded the heat wave event at Casey research station in East Antarctica during the 2019-2020 southern hemisphere summer.

Findings by the team were published in the Global Change Biology journal on Tuesday, with authors warning that the changes could affect global weather patterns.

Between January 23 and 26, a research team at Casey — directly south of Perth in western Australia — recorded the highest maximum and minimum temperatures ever seen at the base.

During the period, minimum temperatures were higher than zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) while the maximums peaked above 7.5 degrees.

On January 24, the Casey team recorded a record high temperature of 9.2 degrees Celsius, 6.9 degrees higher than the station's mean maximum.

Heat waves are classified as three consecutive days where very high maximum and minimum temperatures are recorded.

At the same time, record high temperatures were also reported on the other side of the continent, on the Antarctic Peninsula. Last month, the highest ever temperature — 18.3 degrees — was recorded at the Argentinian research station Esperanza Base.

Global Impact on Climate

The authors of the study said the local effects of climate change could have a global impact.

"Antarctica may be isolated from the rest of the continents by the Southern Ocean, but it has worldwide impacts," they said.

"It drives the global ocean conveyor belt, a constant system of deep-ocean circulation which transfers oceanic heat around the planet, and its melting ice sheet adds to global sea-level rise."

Co-author Dana Bergstrom said the hot summer could affect local populations positively at first, but could also lead to drought and heat stress on species adapted for the cold.

"Most life exists in small ice-free oases in Antarctica, and depends on melting snow and ice for their water supply," said Bergstrom, a principal scientist at the Australian Antarctic Division.

While an increase in meltwater flooding associated with higher temperatures could provide extra water to such ecosystems – helping them on a short-term basis - it could also dislodge plants and radically change the composition of communities of invertebrates and microbes.

"Based on our experience from previous anomalous hot summers in Antarctica we can expect a multitude of biological impacts to be reported in coming years, illustrating how climate change is impacting even the most remote areas of the planet," the study said.

Contributors to the research came from Australia's University of Wollongong, the University of Tasmania and the government agency Australian Antarctic Division.

Reposted with permission from Deutsche Welle.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pexels

By Shawna Foo

Anyone who's tending a garden right now knows what extreme heat can do to plants. Heat is also a concern for an important form of underwater gardening: growing corals and "outplanting," or transplanting them to restore damaged reefs.

Read More Show Less
Malte Mueller / Getty Images

By David Korten

Our present course puts humans on track to be among the species that expire in Earth's ongoing sixth mass extinction. In my conversations with thoughtful people, I am finding increasing acceptance of this horrific premise.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Women sort potatoes in the Andes Mountains near Cusco Peru on July 7, 2014. Thomas O'Neill / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Alejandro Argumedo

August 9 is the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples – a celebration of the uniqueness of the traditions of Quechua, Huli, Zapotec, and thousands of other cultures, but also of the universality of potatoes, bananas, beans, and the rest of the foods that nourish the world. These crops did not arise out of thin air. They were domesticated over thousands of years, and continue to be nurtured, by Indigenous people. On this day we give thanks to these cultures for the diversity of our food.

Read More Show Less
A sand tiger shark swims over the USS Tarpon in Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. Tane Casserley / NOAA

By John R. Platt

Here at The Revelator, we love a good shark story.

The problem is, there aren't all that many good shark stories. According to recent research, sharks and their relatives represent one of the world's most imperiled groups of species. Of the more than 1,250 known species of sharks, skates, rays and chimeras — collectively known as chondrichthyan fishes — at least a quarter are threatened with extinction.

Read More Show Less

Trending

The Anderson Community Group. Left to right, Caroline Laur, Anita Foust, the Rev. Bryon Shoffner, and Bill Compton, came together to fight for environmental justice in their community. Anderson Community Group

By Isabella Garcia

On Thanksgiving Day 2019, right after Caroline Laur had finished giving thanks for her home, a neighbor at church told her that a company had submitted permit requests to build an asphalt plant in their community. The plans indicated the plant would be 250 feet from Laur's backdoor.

Read More Show Less