All-Time Record for Antarctic Ice-Melt over 24 Hr. Period Set on Christmas Eve 2019; Climatologists Declare ‘Planetary Emergency’

(EnviroNews World News) — About 15 percent of Antarctica’s surface melted on Christmas Eve 2019, breaking previous records for ice-melt, according to the Global Forecast System (GFS) by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) and the data from the Modèle Atmosphérique Régional (MAR), a model used for meteorological and climatic research.

Climatologist Xavier Fettweis with the University of Liège in Belgium tweeted the news, adding that the production of melt-water is 230 percent higher than the same time last year with the melting season not yet over. Fettweis told Newsweek this information was from a model and would need to be confirmed in two to three melting seasons to determine what was really going on. Fettweis also had this to say:

We have observed a crash of the Antarctica polar vortex just before this melting season. A weaker polar vortex allows warm air masses to reach the ice sheet [more easily] (which is usually protected by its polar vortex as it was the case the previous summer). The fact that the sea ice extent is very low also enhances the possibility of warm air masses [reaching] the ice sheet.


Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist and fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, also sounded off on Twitter, highlighting the fact that planet Earth had just set a new world record — and not a good one:

On Christmas Eve, unusually warm weather melted the most ice across the continent of Antarctica in a single day out of any day in recorded history.

Climate campaigner Mike Hudema seconded that Tweet with a time-lapse showing the ice-melt:

The polar vortex is a swirling low-pressure system of cold air near the pole. Over the last decade, the vortex had been stronger and had given Antarctica some protection from global warming consequences. With the weaker vortex, Fettweis said skeptics would no longer be able to use anomalies on the continent to bolster their climate change denying arguments.

While the melting of polar ice has many possible reasons, Fettweis 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 cannot be ignored here.”

In an article in Nature, scientist Timothy Lenton and six of his colleagues wrote Antarctica has already reached a couple of tipping points that make a dramatic increase in sea level inevitable. “The evidence from tipping points alone suggests that we are in a state of planetary emergency: both the risk and urgency of the situation are acute,” said Lenton.

Antarctica isn’t the only place that’s been affected by ice melting. Greenland’s ice sheet is melting seven times faster than it did in the 1990s according to the Guardian. Phys.org reported that the Arctic had its second warmest year since 1900, and overall temperatures have been increasing twice as fast at the North Pole than in other areas of the world.

Lenton told Newsweek, that in order for climate change to be averted, politicians worldwide needed to end subsidies for fossil fuel extractors and increase their investment in alternative energies, sustainable transport, and the related infrastructures.

Climate change journalist and author of The Uninhabitable Earth David Wallace-Wells agreed with Lenton saying individual action isn’t enough; people need to transform politics to fix climate change.

Wallace-Wells predicts that if the rise in global temperature hits 4 degrees, the fabric of society will entirely breakdown. There would be hundreds of millions of climate refugees, some places would experience six climate change disasters at once, all of the world’s ice would be lost and seas would be 260 feet higher.

“By the end of the century if we do not take action on climate change, the damage from climate change will surpass twice as much as all the wealth that exists in the world today,” said Wallace-Wells.

He cites the California and Australia fires as part of the devastating future that already exists today, but said fires would be 64 times larger than “last year’s” record-setting season. However, he believes by recognizing that climate change exists, people can fix the problem.

“If we wanted to avert all these outcomes right now and we collectively mobilized and decided that we’re going to devote ourselves to the action as a planet, we could do that easily,” said Wallace-Wells in a video on Newsweek.

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