Participants in the Australian Antarctic Program based at Case in East Antarctica have recorded and described the continent's first-ever full-scale heatwave. It arrived in the last days of January and managed to warm up the polar air so much that an absolute temperature record was already recorded here in early February. 18.3 ° C is a full half a degree higher than the last record from 2015.
Under a heat wave in this case, scientists mean a period of three days or more, when both the temperature maximum and the minimum exceed the measurement values of previous years. The Case station stores 31 years of temperature data, and over all these years, it usually hovers around zero in early spring. 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 worried about such anomalies - and not only because excess heat accelerates the melting of glaciers. Much of Antarctic land life in the form of mosses, lichens, microbes and invertebrates is concentrated around small oases formed from melt water. If an excess of it forms on the continent, it will surely provoke an overgrowth of flora and fauna. At the same time, large volumes of water can create flooding with unknown consequences, and if all the ice melts before summer, the oases, on the contrary, will simply dry up.