Participants in the Australian Antarctic Program, living on the basis of CASE in East Antarctica recorded and described the first full -scale thermal wave in history on this continent. She came in the last days of January and managed to warm up the polar air so much that already in early February the absolute temperature record was recorded here. 18.3 ° C is a whole half gradus above the last record of 2015.
By thermal wave in this case, scientists mean the period lasting from three days, when both the temperature maximum and the minimum exceed the values of the measurements of past years. The CASE station stored data on temperature measurements for 31 years, and over all these years in early spring it usually fluctuates about zero. However, on January 23, 2020, the thermometer showed 7.5 ° C, and the next day as much as 9.2 ° C. The minimum value also increased to 2.5 ° C.
Scientists are very disturbed by such anomalies – and not only because the excess heat accelerates the melting of glaciers. Most of the land antarctic life in the form of mosses, lichens, microbes and invertebrates are concentrated around small oases formed from melt water. If its excess forms on the continent, this will surely provoke excessive growth of flora and fauna. At the same time, large volumes of water can create flooding with unknown consequences, and if all the ice melts until the summer, oases, on the contrary, simply dry out.
Source — Global Change Biology