Heat record in Antarctica

23 March, 2022

The Arctic and Antarctic have been 30-40 degrees warmer than normal this week, and heat records have been broken at at least one weather station. It’s not a good sign when you see something like this happening,” says meteorologist Matthew Lazzara of the University of Wisconsin.

A heatwave has swept across both the North and South Poles this week and scientists around the world are shocked.

This has never happened before and goes against all our expectations for the climate in Antarctica, polar scientist Jonathan Wille of the Université Grenoble Alpes told The Washington Post this week.

Record temperatures and declining ice mass in Antarctica. Photo: Tore Meek/NTB/TT

40 degrees warmer than normal

At the French-Italian Concordia station in Antarctica, at an altitude of 3 234 metres, the temperature was recorded at minus 12.2 degrees Celsius on Friday. It is about 40 degrees warmer than normal.

At the Russian Vostok station in Antarctica, which is closer to the South Pole and at an even higher altitude, a new temperature record of minus 17.7 degrees was set this week, about 15 degrees warmer than the previous record for the site, according to Maximiliano Herrera, a weather service specialist in extreme weather.

The Vostok station became famous when, in the summer of 1983, it recorded the lowest temperature ever recorded in the world at minus 89.2 degrees.

At the coastal Terra Nova base in Antarctica, which is just entering the autumn season, the temperature this week was plus 7 degrees.

At the same time, temperatures around the North Pole, in the Arctic, are approaching zero, which is very unusual for the time of year, according to glaciologist Walt Meier.

They are supposed to be opposite seasons. The North and South Poles are not supposed to melt at the same time: this is definitely an unusual event. It’s quite shocking,” Meier told the AP news agency.

Reduced sea ice

The US Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) says that at the end of February, Antarctica’s sea ice shrank to less than two million square kilometres for the first time since 1979.

‘It would be hard to argue that there isn’t an imprint of climate change on an event like this,’ says Wille.

But neither Wille, Lazzara nor Meier make any direct link at this stage between the unusually high temperatures this week and climate change.

According to Wille, the Antarctic heat wave has been caused by unusual atmospheric phenomena – a narrow corridor of heat and moisture – which has resulted in heavy rainstorms, among other things. This weather system – which occurs occasionally and normally passes by quite quickly – is then said to have been slowed to a position over the continent by a new high pressure system.

Text: TT
Photo: Tore Meek/NTB/TT

Related articles

For the first time, we will now find out what happens during the winter, with carbon dioxide uptake and salinity and thus get more accurate data to put into different climate models to get more accurate predictions about the future…
Reportage: Lena Scherman
Photo: Simon Stanford
UV Photo: Göran Ehlmé, Johan Candert
Editor: Alexandre Gobatti Ramos
She has researched life under the Arctic’s last intact ice – a place where no one has done research before. “We will map an unknown ecosystem,” says marine biologist Pauline Snoeijs Leijonmalm…
Text: Fanny Jönsson
Photo: Peter Sylvander, Kimberly Bird
About 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered gas resources and 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil resources are estimated to be north of the Arctic Circle. Sweden now leads meeting on ocean protection in the Arctic…
Text: Fanny Jönsson
Photo: PAME/GettyImages
Scroll to Top