Sunday, December 29, 2019

Record Hit for Most Ice to Melt in Antarctica in One Day, Data Suggests: "We Are in a Climate Emergency"

By Kashmira Gander On 12/27/19 at 7:22 AM EST

The record in recent decades for the highest level of ice to melt in Antarctica in one day was reached on Christmas Eve, data suggests.

Around 15 percent of the continent's surface melted on Monday, according to the Global Forecast System (GFS) by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). The data comes from the Modèle Atmosphérique Régional (MAR), a model used for meteorological and climatic research.

Xavier Fettweis, a climatologist at the University of Liège in Belgium, who tweeted the data on Friday, said this is the highest melt extent in Antarctica in the modern era, since 1979. He added the production of melt water is a record 230 percent higher than average since November this year. That's despite the melting season not yet being over.


Asked whether climate change is to blame, he said: "As for most of the anomalies observed on these last months over the Earth (e.g. in Australia), the signal coming from global warming can not be ignored here."

Fettweis said Antarctica had been "protected" by global warming, due in part to a stronger polar vortex over this last decade than usual. But he said this no longer seems to be the case, and climate anomalies observed at the continent can no longer be used by climate skeptics to deny global warming is occurring.


Last month, scientists urged world leaders to take urgent action to tackle climate change, as "abrupt" and "irreversible" climate tipping points that threaten human civilization may have already started.

Tipping points are thresholds that, once passed, can trigger rapid changes to climate systems. These were first described by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) two decades ago. At that time it was thought they would likely happen if global warming exceeded pre-industrial levels by 5 C. But since then, new research has indicated the events could happen even with 1 C to 2 C of warming, the scientists said.

In an article published in the journal Nature, scientists highlighted if the likely interconnected tipping points are met, a domino-effect of "long-term irreversible changes" to the planet could be triggered.

"Evidence that tipping points are underway has mounted in the past decade," the experts wrote.


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