After a 9-day heatwave, Eagle Island lost 20% of its snow. Satellite photos clearly show the change on this island, located on the northern top if Antarctica. Just how hot is a heatwave in Antarctica? Try 65 degrees Fahrenheit! That’s warm enough for you to pack up your bags and head down to the most southern continent and have a picnic.
The surprising warmth is caused by a positive feedback loop; carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere warms the temperature, which, in turn, causes positive feedback loop that worsens global warming. Ice and snow reflect the sun, but when the snow melts there is less reflecting and more absorbing of the sun’s rays, which makes the planet warmer. The cycle spirals and soon Antarctica records 65 degree temperatures. The exposed land on Antarctica will now absorb even more energy, even after the heatwave passes.
As temperatures continue to rise globally, coastal communities will have to be relocated. Those with resources will be able to cope. Unfortunately, since relocation is costly, most people at or near the poverty line, especially those in developing countries, will not be able to cope without assistance.
With each year that passes, more carbon dioxide gets dumped into the atmosphere. Pretty soon, we’ll reach a point where the temperature’s positive feedback loop will become uncontrollable. From there, the planet will warm with devastating consequences for many groups of people.