Climate Change

Polar Heatwaves: Record temperatures 30-40 degrees Celsius above normal

Rapid rise in temperatures at poles a warning of disruption in Earth’s climate systems, say experts

By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 23 March 2022

On March 20, 2022, temperatures at the Concordia Research Station, a French-Italian research station on the Antarctic Plateau, reached -12 degrees Celsius (°C). This was about 40°C warmer than the average temperature of the region.

At the same time, weather stations near the North Pole also showed signs of melting, with some temperatures 30°C above normal. The sudden heatwaves at both of Earth’s poles are causing alarm among climate scientists, who have warned of these “unprecedented” events as a signal of faster climatic breakdown.

Normally, at this time of year, the Antarctic should be rapidly cooling after its summer, and the Arctic only slowly emerging from its winter, as the days lengthen. According to the warnings issued by scientists on IPCC’s comprehensive review of climate science, the rapid rise in temperatures at the poles is a warning of disruption in Earth’s climate systems.

Looking first at the global temperature anomalies for March so far, we can see a large area of warmer-than-normal temperatures over the western Polar regions. As the warmer air moves into the polar regions, it usually means that colder air moves out. Hence, colder-than-normal temperatures can be found in most of Canada, most of the west-central United States as well as over parts of Europe and Siberia.

Strong pressure systems in the sub-polar regions are also creating a “wind tunnel” from the North Atlantic into the Polar Circle. Heatwaves at the poles are a strong signal of the damage humanity is wreaking on the climate, and the melting could also accelerate further climate breakdown.

Second, as the polar sea ice melts, particularly in the Arctic, it reveals the dark sea that absorbs more heat than reflective ice, warming the planet further. The latest unprecedented weather patterns are also following a series of alarming heatwaves in 2021, which in turn resulted in a series of forest fires around the globe, including in North America and Turkey.

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