Tuesday, 21 September, 2021


Ice in Antarctica Is Melting Remarkably Fast, According to NASA Satellite Images

Kristine Garrett | 25 February, 2020, 18:52

Those are the effects of the recent record high temperatures in Antarctica, according to NASA, which on Friday released stunning before-and-after satellite images of northern Antarctica.

Remarkable before-and-after satellite images from NASA show how much ice melted on Antarctica's Eagle Island over a 9-day heatwave earlier this month. NASA says the map reflects temperatures about 6-1/2 feet above the ground. It has been reported to rise nearly 37.4 degrees Fahrenheit in the last 50 years, which goes to show just how much the temperature has risen.

Antarctica February 4, 2020. Temperatures were so warm that huge areas of snowpack became saturated with meltwater, with an estimated four inches melting over five days. In accordance to local climate products, Eagle Island expert peak soften of two.5cm on February 6. According to Pelto, Eagle Island lost almost 1 square mile (1.5 square kilometers) of snowpack to the heat, creating several large ponds of bright blue meltwater at the island's center.

"I've never seen melting ponds originating from meltdown in Antarctica", said Mauri Pelto, a glacier at Nichols College. said. "You see these sorts of melt situations in Alaska and Greenland, but not commonly in Antarctica".

The warmth during early February comes against the background of sharply increasing temperatures linked to human-caused climate change, with melting glaciers and vulnerable floating ice shelves the subject of increasing concern to scientists and policymakers alike.

The warm temperatures of February 2020 were caused by a combination of meteorological elements. The Larsen B Ice Shelf collapsed in a matter of days in 2002 during a warm spell and foehn wind event, speeding the flow of upstream ice into the sea. "However, the westerlies were in a weakened state, which allowed the extra-tropical warm air to cross the Southern Ocean and reach the ice sheet".

Also, sea surface temperatures in the area were above average by 2C to 3C degrees.

Scientists also suspect so-called foehn winds played a part in the melt event.

It's easy to forget that Antarctica is technically a desert, until you see it without snow. In February 2020, westerly winds ran into the Antarctic Peninsula Cordillera.

NASA explained that behind the high temperatures were the result of strong winds that traveled to the mountains, where it cooled and condensed into ice or rain. As that water vapor condenses into liquid water or ice, heat is released into the surrounding air. The drier air means fewer low-lying clouds and potentially more direct sunlight east of the mountain range.

It added, "If you think about this one event in February, it isn't that significant", said Pelto. "It's more significant that these events are coming more frequently", Professor Pelto told NASA. Two images were then selected as NASA Earth Observatory's Image of the Day.

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