New images released by NASA, taken by the Operational Land Imager on Landsat 8, show the extreme extent of the ice melt on Eagle Island in Antarctica.
These shocking images come after a week-long heatwave which broke the record for hottest temperature ever recorded in the region.
At 18.3°C, Antarctica would have been warm enough to wear a light jersey, rather than the expected snowsuit.
The images of the island follow a large part of the ice cap melting into the sea, showing small pools of melt, which also compromise the ice.
“I haven’t seen melt ponds develop this quickly in Antarctica,” Mauri Pelto, a glaciologist said in NASA’s press release.
While ice melt is not a strange phenomenon for the area in general, it is unusual for an island that is so far north. In addition, the increase in identified melts is concerning.
“These warm events are occurring more frequently in that part of the peninsula,” Alexandra Isern, head of Antarctic sciences at the National Science Foundation told NPR.
“You see these kinds of melt events in Alaska and Greenland, but not usually in Antarctica.”
Scientists are concerned because this wasn’t the first heatwave of the season. but rather the third major melt event of the 2019-2020 Southern Hemisphere summer.