Scientists fear catastrophe after 'mind-boggling' 38.5C temperature jump in Antarctica

The coldest place on earth recorded a leap in temperature so extreme researchers described it as "simply mind-boggling" and warned it could be a harbinger of a disaster.  

On March 18, 2022, scientists at the Concordia research station in the east Antarctic recorded the largest spike in temperature ever recorded with the region experiencing a rise of 38.5C above its seasonal average.  

The leap was so startling it left researchers dumbfounded. Science leader at the British Antarctic Survey Professor Michael Meredith told the Guardian it is "simply mind-boggling".  

"In sub-zero temperatures such a massive leap is tolerable but if we had a 40C rise in the UK now that would take temperatures for a spring day to over 50C - and that would be deadly for the population," Professor Meredith told the outlet. 

Scientists say an increasing amount of warm and humid air from lower latitudes are being pushed into the continent, which are to blame for the dramatic temperature rise.  

Unfortunately, it's not an isolated event with an increasing number of meteorologic anomalies being reported on the continent in the past two years.  

Glaciers bordering west Antartica are also receding at an increasing rate while sea level ice, which typically floats around Antartica's oceans, is disappearing dramatically after being stable for more than a century.  

This is stoking concerns the continent, which was previously thought to be too cold to experience the early impacts of global warming, is now finally succumbing to its effects. 

If west Antarctica's ice sheets vanished completely, which is possible in the next few decades, it would see sea levels rise by 5 metres, according to a 2021 report by the UN's climate body - the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate

For New Zealand, this would have devastating consequences. An interactive map by Climate Central shows a 5-metre sea level rise would see large areas of the country underwater. 

Several suburbs in Auckland would disappear including all of Wynyard Quarter and much of the Viaduct, including Spark Arena and the Ports of Auckland. 

Meanwhile, large areas of the Waikato, Coromandel and Tauranga would also be underwater.  

Napier would be below sea level along with Petone in Wellington. Large areas of Miramar and Kilbirnie would also be underwater along with Wellington International Airport.  

Down south isn't much better with Blenheim and much of Christchurch underwater.   

Invercargill would also be badly impacted.