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Weather event sees Arctic and Antarctic heat surge at same time

Andrew Backhouse, March 24, 2022 7:00PM Kids News

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Temperatures in parts of Antarctica are more than 40C warmer than average, while in some Arctic regions, the mercury has shot up more than 30C higher than normal. media_cameraTemperatures in parts of Antarctica are more than 40C warmer than average, while in some Arctic regions, the mercury has shot up more than 30C higher than normal.

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A heatwave is taking place simultaneously in the Arctic and Antarctic – a development described as “unthinkable” by scientists.

Records have been “rewritten” in parts of Antarctica, with the temperature more than 40C warmer than average. Meanwhile in parts of the Arctic, the mercury* shot up more than 30C higher than normal.

On March 19 the Concordia weather station in Antarctica was at -12.2C, about 40C above average, climatologist* Maximiliano Herrera reported.

The heatwave has stunned scientists.

Temperatures in the poles are skyrocketing. media_cameraThe heatwave has stunned scientists. Picture: supplied

“They are opposite seasons,” US National Snow and Ice Data Centre scientist Dr Walt Meier said to NBC News. “You don’t see the North and the South (Poles) both melting at the same time. It is pretty stunning.”

Polar researcher Dr Jonathan Wille told the Washington Post, “This event is completely unprecedented* and up-ended our expectations about the Antarctic climate system.”

Researcher Stefano Di Battista wrote on social media platform Twitter, “Antarctic climatology has been rewritten,” describing the temperature surge as “impossible” and “unthinkable”.

The freakish* heat is believed to be a random weather event.

It has not been linked to climate change, according to meteorologist* Dr Matthew Lazzara and Dr Meier. But if the event is repeated, it would be a major concern and could be an indicator of climate change, both experts told NBC News.

media_cameraAn Adelie penguin near the US-controlled McMurdo research station in Antarctica, pictured in 2016. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said the polar regions are being increasingly impacted by climate change, with sea ice thinning dramatically. Picture: AFP Photo/POOL/Mark Ralston

The Arctic has warmed at about twice the rate as the entire globe over the past 30 years, which has been widely blamed on climate change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said the polar regions are being increasingly impacted by climate change, with sea ice thinning dramatically.

It is projected that Earth’s surface temperature will rise 1.5C above pre-industrial* levels, perhaps within a decade.

A 1.5C cap on global warming – the ambitious goal of the 2015 Paris Climate Accord – has been embraced as a target by most of the world’s nations.

Current carbon-cutting commitments under the treaty, however, still has the world on a perilous* path towards 2.7C of warming by 2100.

The IPCC is set to report its next findings – mostly focused on mitigating* climate change – on April 4.

media_cameraMelt ponds on the Arctic sea ice in the Central Arctic, pictured in 2018. Climate change is leading to increased sea ice thinning in the polar regions. Picture: AFP Photo/Nature Publishing/Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research

– with AFP

GLOSSARY

  • mercury: a heavy, silver-coloured metal, liquid at ordinary temperatures, used in thermometers
  • climatologist: scientist who studies the climate
  • unprecedented: unheard of, unmatched, has never happened or existed in the past
  • freakish: very peculiar, strange, bizarre
  • meteorologist: scientist that deals with the atmosphere, weather and weather forecasting
  • pre-industrial: before machines were able to produce goods on a large scale
  • perilous: extremely dangerous, hazardous, very risky
  • mitigating: making something less harmful, severe, unpleasant, or bad

EXTRA READING

Seals in hi-tech helmets help Antarctic study

Understanding climate change

When nature plays a part

Antarctic ice shelf calves massive iceberg

QUICK QUIZ

  1. How many degrees warmer than usual are areas in Antarctica?
  2. On March 19, the Concordia weather station in Antarctica recorded what temperature?
  3. How many degrees higher than normal is the temperature in parts of the Arctic?
  4. The Arctic has warmed at what rate over the past 30 years?
  5. What is the goal of the 2015 Paris Climate Accord?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. What could happen?
How do you think these surprising temperatures could affect the Arctic and Antarctic? Write a list of things that could happen as a result of this weather event.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Science

2. Extension
Use the information in the story to write a sentence that explains the meaning of the term climate change.

Time: allow 10 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Science

VCOP ACTIVITY
Read this!
A headline on an article – or a title on your text – should capture the attention of the audience, telling them to read this now. So choosing the perfect words for a headline or title is very important.

Create three new headlines for the events that took place in this article. Remember, what you write and how you write it will set the pace for the whole text, so make sure it matches.

Read out your headlines to a partner and discuss what the article will be about based on the headline you created. Discuss the tone and mood you set in just a few short words. Does it do the article justice? Will it capture the audience’s attention the way you hoped? Would you want to read more?

Consider how a headline or title is similar to using short, sharp sentences throughout your text. They can be just as important as complex ones. Go through the last text you wrote and highlight any short, sharp sentences that capture the audience.

Extra Reading in environment