Just a few days ago we had reported that Antarctica registered its warmest temperature ever at 65-degrees Fahrenheit. The island responded to the extreme heat by shedding off 20 per cent of its snow in just nine days. By Kumar Shree

Earlier in February 2020, the Northern tip of Antarctica faced a scorching heatwave for nine days. NASA recently released the images of the same and it brings an alarming situation to everyone’s attention—the island has lost 20 per cent of its snow in that short span. That amount is nearly a quarter of an Antarctic island’s snow, and that’s what makes the matter even more alarming and scary. It’s an impending doom in the making.

Antarctica Loses Snow
Picture Credit: NASA / The image before the heatwave.

The images released by NASA are of Eagle Island on the northeastern peninsula of the continent. While the images before the heatwave show all the ice intact, the images afterwards paint a different picture. The ice is gone leaving the land beneath it exposed and there are pools of the visible melted surface.

Mauri Pelto, a geologist at Nichols College in Massachusetts, told NASA’s Earth Observatory, “I haven’t seen melt ponds develop this quickly in Antarctica. You see these kinds of melt events in Alaska and Greenland, but not usually in Antarctica.”

Climate scientist Xavier Fettweis also plotted a graph showing the amount of meltwater that reached the ocean because of this melting. The heatwave has contributed to the highest amount of sea-level rise this season, he said.

Antarctica Loses Snow
Picture Credit: NASA / The image after the heatwave.

“Just to give you an idea, I have plotted the amount of meltwater reaching ocean from Peninsula as simulated by MAR forced by GFS. Although the absolute numbers need to be confirmed, the recent warm event was well the highest sea level contribution of this summer,” he tweeted.

Antarctica, which is one of the coldest places on earth even during peak summers has faced this level of sustained high temperature for the first time. It has also been rapidly losing its ice cover because of the heat-trapping pollution caused by humans. The glaciers are very promptly responding to climate change and if Antarctica’s entire ice sheets melt, it will shoot up global sea levels by nearly 200 feet.

Related: Antarctica Just Hit 65 Degrees, Its Warmest Temperature Ever