What do record highs in Antarctica mean for the Brazos Valley?

BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - An all-time record high of 65 degrees Fahrenheit was recorded on the Antarctic Peninsula.

But is it just a flashy headline?

“What really matters in climate change is the long-term trend,” said Andrew Dessler, the Texas A&M Reta A. Haynes Chair in Geosciences. “These records by themselves don't mean that much, but they're indicative of this long-term warming that the globe is now experiencing.”

Further side effects of climate change, according to Dessler, are rising sea levels, as glaciers like the Pine Island Glacier continue to melt and collapse into the ocean.

“One of the 100% certain impacts of climate change is sea levels going up; that's going to be hard on anybody who's living within a few feet of sea level,” said Dessler. There are tens of millions of people that live within a few feet of sea level. If sea level goes up by three or six feet—which we predict that sea level over the next century will increase somewhere in that neighborhood—you’re going to see a lot of people displaced. Refugees are a big problem in the world. Just look at refugees from conflicts like in Syria, and you see that 10 or 20 or 50 million refugees are going to create a lot of problems globally.”

John Nielsen-Gammon is the Texas State Climatologist and teaches at the Texas A&M Dept. of Geosciences. He joined First News at Four to discuss the potential effects of rising Antarctic temperatures on the Brazos Valley.

“It doesn’t have much effect directly, although it shows how climate change is really a global phenomenon and affects different places in different ways,” said Nielsen-Gammon. “We’re unlikely to see higher temperatures because of losing ice in Antarctica directly, but as the ice goes away from say, the Arctic, where we’re losing a lot of sea ice…driving temperatures up even further, so it’s kind of a feedback effect that can happen.”

While rising sea levels won’t directly affect us here in the Brazos Valley (Nielsen-Gammon points out that even the lowest areas locally are still more than 200 feet above sea level) he says that there is still a concern for Texans from rising sea levels.

“The main way that oceans affect people through natural disasters is hurricane storm surge,” said Neilsen-Gammon. “Every three feet of storm surge basically doubles the risk of getting hit by a storm surge—every three feet of sea-level rise.”

For the full conversations with Dessler and Neilsen-Gammon, see the video player above.