BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Global warming has terrible effects on many ecosystems on Earth, but Antarctica seems to suffer the most. After huge cracks in the ice layer, moss overcoming the once frozen lands, and waterfalls in unusual colors, the continent is now struggling with unexpected rainfall and a melting area much bigger than Texas.
Massive melting observed in Antarctica
Researchers gathered data on the phenomenon and put it up in a study, published in the journal Nature Communications. In 2016, during the Antarctic summer, they observed how the air had unusually high levels of moisture. Then, they started monitoring the area, and discovered where the humidity came from.
Due to increasingly high temperatures, a massive melting occurred on the continent. After 15 days, on a surface of 300,000 square miles, ice shrunk significantly. The event took place in West Antarctica, close to the Ross Ice Shelf, and was probably caused by a strong El Niño phenomenon.
El Niño was the direct cause of melting
An El Niño event is characterized by higher temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, near the equator. This phenomenon coincided with the melting event, and was, in fact, the strongest El Niño ever recorded. Other similar melting instances also occurred in Antarctica when temperatures peaked in the equatorial Pacific.
Fortunately, the water froze again after the temperatures returned to normal, but this might not always happen. In the future, it might become more difficult for ice to recover, and this might irreversibly affect the Antarctic landscape.
There’s probably no need to mention that the rest of the world is affected as well. If the ice melts, the sea level increases, which has consequences everywhere in the world. Therefore, researchers highlight the need for more advanced prediction methods, which can identify weather and climate anomalies. Then, they need to find all factors which lead to melting events, so that they would keep them under control.
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