Record Heat Melted Away 20% Of This Antarctic Island’s Snow (Video)
A heatwave in Antarctica's Eagle Island is estimated to have melted about 20 percent of this season’s snowfall in just a few days this month.
On Feb. 6, it was about the same temperature at the continent's northern tip as it was on the same day in Los Angeles at 69.3 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the NASA Earth Observatory.
Eagle Island — one of Antarctica’s closest points to South America — lost one inch of its snow accumulation in that day. As time continued, eventually four inches disappeared from Feb. 6 to Feb. 11, which is about 20 percent of the island's total snow accumulation.
“I haven’t seen melt ponds develop this quickly in Antarctica,” Mauri Pelto, a glaciologist at Nichols College, told the outlet. “You see these kinds of melt events in Alaska and Greenland, but not usually in Antarctica.”
Photos obtained by NASA show the difference in snow accumulation. It was the third heatwave of Antarctica’s summer, following warm spells in November 2019 and January 2020.
“If you think about this one event in February, it isn’t that significant,” Pelto said. “It’s more significant that these events are coming more frequently.“
Earlier this month, an iceberg the size of Atlanta broke off Antarctica, signaling drastic changes to the continent due to climate change.