In Antarctica, the first heat wave ever recorded

Participants in the Australian Antarctic Program living on Case's Eastern Antarctic base recorded and described the first ever full-scale heat wave on this continent. It came in the last days of January and managed to warm up the polar air so much that in early February the absolute temperature record was recorded here. 18.3 °C is half a degree above the previous record of 2015.

By heat wave in this case, scientists mean a period of three days, when both the temperature maximum and the minimum exceeds the values of measurements of previous years. The Case station stores data from 31 years of temperature measurements, and for all these years in early spring it usually fluctuates around zero. On 23 January 2020, however, the thermometer showed 7.5 °C and the next day as much as 9.2 °C. The minimum value has also risen to 2.5 °C.

Scientists are very concerned about such anomalies. Unnecessary heat accelerates the melting of glaciers. Much of terrestrial Antarctic life in the form of mosses, lichens, germs and invertebrates is concentrated around small oases formed by melt water. If an excess of water forms on the continent, it is likely to provoke excessive growth in flora and fauna. Large amounts of water can create inundations with unknown consequences, and if all the ice melts before summer, the oases, on the contrary, will simply dry out.

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