|During the worst of the cold weather the Northeastern United States experienced over the course of the last few months, it wasn’t unusual to hear people noting that the harsh winter certainly disproved the threat of global warming. And while the more scientific-minded were likely quick to disabuse them of this notion, others might have been prone to agree when it was revealed that temperatures in the Antarctic at the end of March were warmer than those in New York City. However, as more temperate weather begins to return to the Northeast, experts say that the answers aren’t as simple as they might seem.
On Tuesday, March 24, parts of Antarctica reached a record high of 63.5 degrees Fahrenheit, the hottest temperatures ever reported. In contrast, New York City reached a mere 45 degrees, a more pleasant state than what much of the East Coast has experienced since January. However, being colder than Antarctica surely came as a rude shock to many, especially since the southern continent regularly hits an average temperature of -50 degrees throughout the year.
Since then, scientists have stated that conclusions about global warming should not be drawn from a single weather event. However, the record temperature is just the latest event in a series of drastic changes: for example, a new study published in the journal Science reported that Antarctica’s floating ice shelves have recently decreased by as much as 18% in some spots over the last 18 years. Meanwhile, evidence suggests that warmer ocean temperatures are causing more ice to melt, further increasing water levels. At least one researcher has stated that even if conditions changed now, the warmer water could cause global warming to linger for another 20 years.
Researchers may be reluctant to definitively trace the unusual temperature change to global warming, and for good reason, but both Antarctica and New York City seem to be returning to their normal spring temperatures. In fact, several reports have estimated that most of the U.S. will see warmer weather in the coming weeks: the Climate Prediction Center suggested that the entire East Coast could see a warmer than normal April, while both the National Weather Service and Accuweather.com predicted sunshine and temperatures reaching the 70s in New York in coming weeks.
However, while many people will likely see this as a cause for celebration, it is important to remember to protect yourself from sun damage as this warmer weather makes its debut. As thick layers of clothing become unnecessary, more of our skin will be exposed to UVA and UVB rays, which can cause skin cancer. This is especially troubling for people with large or unusual moles, as well as more than 50 of these common skin marks, who have a higher-than-average risk of developing melanoma, the most aggressive form of the disorder.
To protect yourself and your loved ones, make sure to wear and reapply sunscreen regularly, and consider scheduling an appointment with a dermatologist specialist to discuss your risk level. We may not be able to confirm that the wild temperature changes around the world are due to global warming, but we can make sure to protect ourselves regardless.