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Heatwaves at Earth's poles: Record temperatures 30-40 degrees Celsius above normal worrying

Heatwaves at Earth's poles: Record temperatures 30-40 degrees Celsius above normal worrying

Heatwaves at Earth's poles: Record temperatures 30-40 degrees Celsius above normal worrying
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By Mar 22, 2022 12:00:24 AM IST (Published)

Heatwaves were among the many erratic climate events that were witnessed in 2021 in increasing frequency and intensity due to climate change.

Climate scientists are worried about the above-normal temperatures in the polar region especially after increasingly high temperatures were recorded over the weekend.

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The South Pole in Antarctica measured temperatures 40 degrees Celsius above normal over the past few days while in the Arctic Circle at the North Pole temperatures were 30 degrees Celsius above normal. The rise in temperatures in both the poles at the same time is an unprecedented event.

This rapid rise in temperature at both poles when the Antarctic should be entering its winter season and the Arctic only slowly coming to summer, indicates a possible breakdown of climatic systems and patterns due to the rapidly rising global increase in temperatures. These changes can quickly become irreversible due to the downward spiral of melting ice caps in these regions.

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"The average sea ice thickness has been declining, so it’s ripe for large sea ice loss. The effect of reduced sea ice cover is to amplify Earth’s energy imbalance that’s caused by increasing greenhouse gases (GHGs) -- the GHGs reduce outgoing heat radiation, thus causing a net imbalance that’s heating the planet. Reduced sea ice cover increases the planetary energy imbalance, as a dark ocean reflects less sunlight than sea ice does,” explained James Hansen, former NASA chief scientist, to the Guardian.

As the regions become warmer, the ice is continuously melting which would otherwise be present year-round. Ice and snow reflect the sun, and consequently its heat. With the polar ice cap melting, more and more heat is being transferred to these areas, which is accelerating the speed at which ice caps melt.

"The warming of the Arctic and Antarctic is cause for concern, and the increase in extreme weather events – of which these are an example – is a cause for concern as well. The models have done a good job projecting the overall warming, but we’ve argued that extreme events are exceeding model projections. These events drive home the urgency of action," said Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Centre at Pennsylvania State University, to the Guardian.

2021 saw a severely high number of erratic and severe weather events including, unseasonal rains, heat waves, and blizzards. India is currently witnessing a heatwave that has been sweeping across the Western parts of the country raising temperatures to above 40 degrees C in the middle of March.

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