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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

A Peninsula Melts

A Peninsula Melts

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Friday, February 21, 2020/Categories: natural history, photography, space science, marine life, sustainability, art and design, environment, climate change

                                    Eagle Island Ice Cap, Antarctica 2-4-2020 to 2-13-2020 (credit: Landsat-8)

Ice is melting rapidly on the Antarctic Peninsula. The landform is the only portion of the icy continent to cross the Antarctic Circle reaching towards the tip of South America. The current melting resulted from record warm air over the region creating melt features like ponds and lakes to form on the Eagle Island ice cap, at the tip of Antarctica.

According to NASA, beginning in early February weather stations recorded the hottest temperature ever recorded at 64.9°F (18.3°C) in Antarctica. The measurement was nearly the same temperature as in Los Angeles, California on the same day. The high temperatures created widespread melting on the Peninsula including Eagle Island and similar temperatures continued until mid-February when weather patterns shifted.

The recent heat anomaly for the Antarctic Peninsula was visualized on a map showing the temperature variations across the region during this period. The map, created by NASA's Goodard Spacecraft Center, shows air temperatures at ~6.5 feet (2 meters) above the ground with the darkest red zones indicating measurements above 50°F (10°C).

 

   Air temperature across the Antarctic Peninsula and Eagle Island, 2-9-20 (credit: NASA)

NASA scientists said that this heatwave was the third event of its kind so far this summer which is still in progress. Similar melting events happened during high temperatures in November 2019 and January 2020. As one investigator observed:

“If you think about this one event in February, it isn’t that significant but what's more significant is that these events are now coming more frequently“.

The Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest warming places on Earth having experienced more than 5F increase over the past 50 years. This summer's temperatures are adding additional records on the impact of climate change to this portion of the continent.

WHB

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