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Heatwave Melts 20% of Antarctic Island’s Snow in 9 Days

Melting ice sheets and rising sea levels could affect nearly 40% of the world’s population.

An island in Antarctica lost 20% of its snow in just nine days due to a recent heatwave in the region. 

Newly-released NASA images show what Eagle Island looked like on Feb. 4 and then again on Feb. 13. The photos are drastically different and reveal a 20% loss of ice caps due to a nine-day heatwave in the Antarctic Peninsula. The unusually warm weather caused so much snow to melt that the land beneath the ice cap is now exposed. 

On Feb. 9, Antarctica experienced its hottest day ever recorded with a high of 69.3°F. The heatwave was also the third in the 2019-20 summer season alone. 
 
Though Antarctica is located in the Southern Hemisphere, heatwaves this extreme are rare. But as global temperatures rise, so do extreme weather events. 

The melting of Antarctic ice caps has had lasting effects—including rising sea levels, which could impact millions of people around the world. 40% of the world’s population lives within 100 km (approximately 62 miles) of the coast. According to the World Meteorological Organization, Antarctica's ice sheets contain enough water to raise global sea levels by nearly 200 feet.

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