Rising sea levels are a reason to panic, and Antarctic snow melt is a major contributor. After a nine day heat wave that hit Antarctica earlier this month, NASA images revealed that about a quarter of an Antarctic island’s snow cover melted. Unfortunately, due to the climate crisis, instances such as this are becoming more and more common.
Eagle Island lies on the northern east peninsula of Antarctica.After just nine days, much of the island’s snow had melted and large pool of water formed on the surface, ready to add to ocean.
“I haven’t seen melt ponds develop this quickly in Antarctica,” said Mauri Pelto, a glaciologist at Nichols College in Massachusetts, in a statement, according to USA Today. “You see these kinds of melt events in Alaska and Greenland, but not usually in Antarctica.”
Earlier this month, you could have worn a shirt on what supposed to be one of the coldest places on earth. NASA reported that the icy continent had a peak temperature of 64.9 degrees Fahrenheit, the same temperature as Los Angeles that day.
The peak of the heat wave lasted from February 6 to 11, and the snow of Eagle Island had melted 4 inches, a total of 20% of the island’s total seasonal snow accumulation, NASA’s Earth Observatory said.
CNN reported that climate scientist Xavier Fettweis plotted the amount of meltwater that had reached the ocean from the heat wave. The heat wave was the highest contributor to sea level rise this summer, he said.
Events like this are usually quite rare for the continent. However, with the increasingly more urgent climate crisis, they are now almost becoming the norm.
This heat wave brought incredibly high temperatures that never really occurred on the continent until the 21st century.
Due to heating-trapping gas pollutions caused by humans, Antarctica’s ice caps have already started melting. When all the ice melts, the sea level rise will be catastrophic for us. Anyone living on the coast would be unable to do so. CNN reported that Antarctica’s ice sheets contain enough water to raise global sea levels by nearly 200 feet, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
The climate crisis is quickly causing major loss for Antarctica, and therefore causing major threats to the rest of the planet. In addition to the record high temperatures, an iceberg that was twice the size of Washington, D.C., broke off. Scientists reported that the continent’s “Doomsday glacier” is melting from below because of unusually warm water, according to USA Today. This is evidence that the glacier is quickly responding to climate change, the European Space Agency said.