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Wed Apr 1, 2020, 02:28 AM

Scientists record Antarctica's first-ever heatwave

By Nick Lavars
March 31, 2020

As the planet continues to grow hotter, scientists are keeping a very close eye on the polar regions, which threaten to release huge amounts of water and carbon as they warm and thaw. Among them is a group of Australian scientists stationed in the Antarctic, who have just reported the continent’s first-ever heatwave, which they expect to have significant impacts on the local ecosystem.

In early February, Antarctica reached a record temperature of 18.3 °C (65.5 °F), almost a full degree warmer than the previous record logged in 2015 of 17.5 °C (63.5 °F). The continent’s first heatwave was a separate event to this, but does further illustrate how the global warming trend is affecting the local climate and landscape.

Between January 23 and 26, scientists with the Australian Antarctic Program logged the first reported heatwave event at the Case research center in East Antarctica.

“Heatwaves are classified as three consecutive days with both extreme maximum and minimum temperatures,” says study author Dr Sharon Robinson. “In those three days in January, Casey experienced minimum temperatures above zero and maximum temperatures above 7.5 °C (45.5 °F) , with its highest maximum temperature ever, 9.2 °C (48.6 °F) on 24 January, followed by its highest minimum of 2.5 °C (36.5 °F) the following morning. In the 31-year record for Casey, this maximum is 6.9 °C (12.4 °F) higher than the mean maximum temperature for the station, while the minimum is 0.2 °C (0.36 °F) higher.”


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