Hot poles: Antarctica, Arctic 70 and 50 degrees above normal

Mar 18, 2022, 6:26 PM | Updated: 6:42 pm

Earth’s poles are undergoing simultaneous freakish extreme heat with parts of Antarctica more than 70 degrees (40 degrees Celsius) warmer than average and areas of the Arctic more than 50 degrees (30 degrees Celsius) warmer than average.

Weather stations in Antarctica shattered records Friday as the region neared autumn. The two-mile high (3,234 meters) Concordia station was at 10 degrees (-12.2 degrees Celsius),which is about 70 degrees warmer than average, while the even higher Vostok station hit a shade above 0 degrees (-17.7 degrees Celsius), beating its all-time record by about 27 degrees (15 degrees Celsius), according to a tweet from extreme weather record tracker Maximiliano Herrera.

The coastal Terra Nova Base was far above freezing at 44.6 degrees (7 degrees Celsius).

It caught officials at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, by surprise because they were paying attention to the Arctic where it was 50 degrees warmer than average and areas around the North Pole were nearing or at the melting point, which is really unusual for mid-March, said center ice scientist Walt Meier.

“They are opposite seasons. You don’t see the north and the south (poles) both melting at the same time,” Meier told The Associated Press Friday evening. “It’s definitely an unusual occurrence.”

“It’s pretty stunning,” Meier added.

“Wow. I have never seen anything like this in the Antarctic,” said University of Colorado ice scientist Ted Scambos, who returned recently from an expedition to the continent.

“Not a good sign when you see that sort of thing happen,” said University of Wisconsin meteorologist Matthew Lazzara.

Lazzara monitors temperatures at East Antarctica’s Dome C-ii and logged 14 degrees (-10 degrees Celsius) Friday, where the normal is -45 degrees (-43 degrees Celsius): “That’s a temperature that you should see in January, not March. January is summer there. That’s dramatic.”

Both Lazzara and Meier said what happened in Antarctica is probably just a random weather event and not a sign of climate change. But if it happens again or repeatedly then it might be something to worry about and part of global warming, they said.

The Antarctic warm spell was first reported by The Washington Post.

The Antarctic continent as a whole on Friday was about 8.6 degrees (4.8 degrees Celsius) warmer than a baseline temperature between 1979 and 2000, according to the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer, based on U.S. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration weather models. That 8-degree heating over an already warmed-up average is unusual, think of it as if the entire United States was 8 degrees hotter than normal, Meier said.

At the same time, on Friday the Arctic as a whole was 6 degrees (3.3 degrees) warmer than the 1979 to 2000 average.

By comparison, the world as a whole was only 1.1 degrees (0.6 degrees Celsius) above the 1979 to 2000 average. Globally the 1979 to 2000 average is about half a degree (.3 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 20th century average.

What makes the Antarctic warming really weird is that the southern continent — except for its vulnerable peninsula which is warming quickly and losing ice rapidly — has not been warming much, especially when compared to the rest of the globe, Meier said.

Antarctica did set a record for the lowest summer sea ice — records go back to 1979 — with it shrinking to 741,000 square miles (1.9 million square kilometers) in late February, the snow and ice data center reported.

What likely happened was “a big atmospheric river” pumped in warm and moist air from the Pacific southward, Meier said.

And in the Arctic, which has been warming two to three times faster than the rest of the globe and is considered vulnerable to climate change, warm Atlantic air was coming north off the coast of Greenland.

___

Read stories on climate issues by The Associated Press at https://apnews.com/hub/climate

___

Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears.

____

Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

This photo taken with a drone shows portions of a Norfolk and Southern freight train that derailed ...
Associated Press

Evacuations urged in Ohio town as train wreck smolders

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (AP) — A smoldering tangle of dozens of derailed freight cars, some carrying hazardous materials, has kept an evacuation order in effect in Ohio near the Pennsylvania state line as environmental authorities warily watch air quality monitors. About 50 cars derailed in East Palestine at about 9 p.m. Friday as a train […]
14 hours ago
This image released by Universal Pictures shows Dave Bautista, from left, Abby Quinn, and Nikki Amu...
Associated Press

‘Knock at the Cabin’ knocks off ‘Avatar’ at the box office

NEW YORK (AP) — For the first time in almost two months, the box office doesn’t belong to blue people. After seven weeks as the top film in theaters, “Avatar: The Way of Water” was finally knocked out of the No. 1 spot by the M. Night Shyamalan thriller “Knock at the Cabin” and the […]
14 hours ago
NASCAR Cup Series drivers Chris Buescher (17) and Alex Bowman (48) participate during a practice se...
Associated Press

Ally Financial expands NASCAR spend with 2 new partnerships

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ally Financial has expanded its growing portfolio as a top NASCAR sponsor with a deal to become the official bank of the stock car series and NASCAR-owned race tracks. The multiyear deal was announced Sunday ahead of NASCAR’s exhibition extravaganza at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and led to the creation […]
14 hours ago
President Joe Biden speaks at the Democratic National Committee winter meeting, Friday, Feb. 3, 202...
Associated Press

Biden’s State of the Union to tout policy wins on economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will use his second State of the Union address on Tuesday to remind Americans of how their lives have been improved over his first two years in office, as he tries to confront pessimism in the country and navigate the tricky politics of a newly divided Washington. Rather than […]
14 hours ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Associated Press

NFL offering free CPR training during Super Bowl week

The NFL and American Heart Association will provide free CPR education in Arizona throughout Super Bowl week as part of the NFL Experience.
14 hours ago
/// State Sen. Clarence Lam, a Maryland Democrat who is a physician at Johns Hopkins, speaks during...
Associated Press

As many as 80K Marylanders could lose Medicaid eligibility

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland officials are preparing for as many as 80,000 residents who could no longer qualify for Medicaid coverage this spring, as the federal government reinstates a requirement that existed before the COVID-19 pandemic for states to verify the eligibility of recipients. Michele Eberle, the executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit […]
14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Hot poles: Antarctica, Arctic 70 and 50 degrees above normal