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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

summer is peaking !! and the sweltering heat is felt !!!!

Antarctica,  is Earth's southernmost continent, containing the geographic South Pole.  It is the fifth-largest continent in area after Asia, Africa, North America, and South America. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice that averages 1.9 kilometres (1.2 mi) in thickness, which extends to all but the northernmost reaches of the Antarctic Peninsula.  Antarctica, on average, is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents. Here, only cold-adapted organisms survive, including many types of algae, bacteria, fungi, plants, protista, and certain animals, such as mites, nematodes, penguins and  seals.  At the peak of the southern winter there will be no sunlight as Antarctica would settle into a prolonged period of 24-hour darkness.

Esperanza base  is a permanent, all year-round Argentine research station in Hope Bay, Trinity Peninsula.  It is one of only two civilian settlements on Antarctica (the other being the Chilean Villa Las Estrellas). The Base's motto is "Permanencia, un acto de sacrificio" ("Permanence, an act of sacrifice").  Built in 1953, the base houses 55 inhabitants in winter, including 10 families and 2 school teachers.

It is summer… day are getting hotter as Chennaites are sweltering under hot weather ~  one starts feeling the heat right from the early morning and day gets extended…  every year, we hear the common refrain – ‘this year, it is hotter’!  The weather in Chennai is mostly hot, irrespective of the months and in Summer, it scorches even when closer to the Bay of Bengal.   It sweats a lot and is quite uncomfortable travelling in mid-noon, in hot Sun.   People try to do differently – travel in airconditioned buses and vehicles, take gallons of water and cool doors, try to stay indoors – yet !! – the labourers, pedlars, sales person on the road and their ilk are the worst hit.  Spare a thought for Traffic Police cops too ~standing long hours in the hot Sun, trying to regulate the unruly vehicles and breathing the polluted air.

This is no post on Chennai’s Summer but that of Antarctic temperatures reaching all time high: two-day heatwave hitting 17.5°C.  Many news reports suggest report that the warmest temperature ever recorded on the continent of Antarctica may have occurred on Tuesday, March 24, 2015, when the mercury shot up to 63.5°F (17.5°C) at Argentina's Esperanza Base on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.  According to weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera, the previous hottest temperature recorded in Antarctica was 63.3°F (17.4°C) set just one day previously at Argentina's Marambio Base, on a small islet just off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. Prior to this week's remarkable heat wave, the hottest known temperature in Antarctica was the 62.8°F (17.1°C) recorded at Esperanza Base on April 24, 1961.

According to meteorologists this is potentially a new record for the warmest temperature measured on the frozen continent. The new temperature record was measured on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula  where the ice shelf covering the sea has declined considerably in recent years and glaciers are thought to be receding.   However, the heatwave on the coldest continent on Earth has still to be officially certified by the World Meteorological Organisation.

There is growing apprehension that Antarctica's icy edge is disappearing in warming ocean waters, with the last decade seeing the rate of ice loss increase dramatically. This is according to a new study that has combined 18-years worth of ice shelf thinning data from three different sets of satellites. The researchers claim that some ice shelves in West Antarctica have lost as much as 18 per cent of their volume in the last ten years. Satellite data from 1994 to 2012 clearly shows the accelerating decline which could hasten the rise in global sea levels, scientists say. The findings come amid concern among many scientists about the effects of global climate change on Earth's vast, remote polar regions.'

Antarctica is known as the coldest place on Earth where temperatures have dropped to -93.2°C (-135.8°F) on the East Antarctic Plateau. Climate scientists have blamed the changes happening there on human-generated global warming.  Marine sediment cores suggest the changes happening in the area are unprecedented at least in the past 10,000 years. Dr Masters said last week's heatwave matched a trend occurring around the world. He said that in 2015 five nations or territories have now set all time records or matched their records for hottest temperatures in history. He added that 46 nations or territories, out of 235, have set or tied all time heat records since 2010. However, despite the new record temperature, climate scientists are urging caution about drawing conclusions from it.

Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist with Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, told National Geographic that last year Antarctica also logged a record cold temperature. He said that long term climate changes in Antarctica are complex and still have not been complained properly.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

7th Apr 2015

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