Researchers record the hottest ever reading on Earth’s coldest continent where temperatures usually range between 14F and -76F. Temperatures in Antarctica reached an unprecedented 63.5F on March 24, 2015, the U.N. weather agency has announced on March 2017. Over the past 50 years, the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula has been one of the most rapidly warming parts of the planet, with its glaciers in accelerated retreat in the last 12 years. Air temperature increases of 3 degrees in the Antarctic Peninsula, which is 5 times the mean rate of global warming as reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC. This change can also be noted in the Southern Ocean which is warming more rapidly than the global ocean as a whole. Antarctica’s immense ice sheet is up to 4.8km thick and contains 90% of the world’s fresh water, enough to raise sea level by around 60 meters were it all to melt. The warming of the Peninsula has reshaped the physical and living environment of the region. The distribution of penguin colonies has changed as the sea ice conditions alter and on land has resulted in increased colonization by plants. A long-term decline in the abundance of Antarctic krill may be associated with reduced sea ice. Many glaciers have retreated and ice shelves that formerly fringed the Peninsula have retreated in recent years, some have collapsed completely. Adélie penguin populations have been declining in recent years due to reductions in krill populations. Emperor penguins are highly vulnerable and are predicted to suffer as the world’s average temperature increases. Climate change in Antarctica will thus have dramatic effects both globally and locally.
ZUMA Press Launches this week: zReportage: “Antarctic Warm Up” Photography by @ Ann Inger Johansson.