Between March 15-19, 2022, East Antarctica experienced an exceptional heatwave with widespread 30-40° C temperature anomalies across the ice sheet. This record-shattering event saw numerous monthly temperature records being broken including a new all-time temperature record of -9.4° C on March 18 at Concordia Station despite March typically being a transition month to the Antarctic coreless winter. The driver for these temperature extremes was an intense atmospheric river advecting subtropical/mid-latitude heat and moisture deep into the Antarctic interior. The scope of the temperature records spurred a large, diverse collaborative effort to study the heatwave’s meteorological drivers, impacts, and historical climate context.
Here we focus on describing those temperature records along with the intricate meteorological drivers that led to the most intense atmospheric river observed over East Antarctica. These efforts describe the Rossby wave activity forced from intense tropical convection over the Indian Ocean. This led to an atmospheric river and warm conveyor belt intensification near the coastline which reinforced atmospheric blocking deep into East Antarctica. The resulting moisture flux and upper-level warm air advection eroded the typical surface temperature inversions over the ice sheet. At the peak of the heatwave, an area of 3.3 million km2 in East Antarctica exceeded previous March monthly temperature records. Despite a temperature anomaly return time of about one hundred years, a closer recurrence of such an event is possible under future climate projections. In a subsequent manuscript, we describe the various impacts this extreme event had on the East Antarctic cryosphere.