It is disturbing indeed that a new record temperature of 20.75C in Antarctica has crossed the 20C mark for the first time. Though, Brazilian scientist Carlos Schaefer told AFP that the reading taken on Seymour Island off the northern tip of Antarctica on February 9 has no meaning when it comes to climate change trend as it is just one-off temperature and not part of a long-term data set, the fact that Antarctica, the icy continent is witnessing temperatures in the 20s will only add fuel to the scare of the planet warming situation. The island is also home to the Marambio research base of Antarctica. The reading had been taken as a part of a 20-year research project on the climate change’s impact on the permafrost of the area. The previous record was in the 19s.
It will not be fair to simply anticipate climate change in future as it is just a data point and a signal to something different taking place over that region, according to skymetweather.com. Still, the fact remains that such high temperature has not been recorded in the region before. Sea level rise is being driven by ever increasing melt-off from ice sheets and glaciers. This is posing to be a threat to many megacities situated in the coastal regions as well as small island nations. The record high temperature came just about a week after the hottest day was recorded for Argentine Antarctica at 18.3C at midday at the Esperanza base, situated near the Antarctic peninsula tip. Previous record was 17.5C, recorded on March 24, 2015. It may be recalled that the past decade has been the hottest on record, as the United Nations said last month, with 2019 the second-hottest year ever, after 2016.
However, Antarctica as a whole has warmed by almost 3C over the past 50 years, according to World Meteorological Organisation data reported by BBC News. During that time, about 87% of the glaciers on its western coast have retreated. The region also just recorded its warmest January on record. Schaefer, who works as part of Brazil’s Terrantar project that studies 23 sites in Antarctica, told The Guardian that temperatures on the peninsula, the South Shetland Islands and the James Ross archipelago cooled during the first decade of the 21st century, and then began to rise quickly. “We are seeing the warming trend in many of the sites we are monitoring, but we have never seen anything like this,” he said.
The peninsula and its surrounding islands have been the areas of Antarctica most impacted by the climate crisis so far, which means they might indicate how the rest of the region will react. “It is important to have sentinel areas like the South Shetlands and the Antarctic peninsula because they can anticipate the developments that will happen in the future, the near future,” Schaefer explained. If all of the ice in Antarctica were to melt, it would cause 50 to 60m (about 164 to 197ft) of sea level rise. This would take centuries, however. In the nearer term, scientists predict 30 to 110cm (about 12 to 43in) of sea level rise by 2100, depending on how successfully greenhouse gas emissions are reduced and how the ice reacts. In short, there is no time to be lost.
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