A new temperature record was set in Antarctica. The last time was in 2015

    08 Jul 2021

    Scientists have confirmed that on February 6, 2020, a new temperature record was set at the Esperanza station on the Antarctic Peninsula.

    The Antarctic region is one of the hottest areas due to climate change.

    Measuring instruments showed +18.3° C. According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the last time the record was set was in 2015, when the temperature in Antarctica rose to +17° C, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

    Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of WMO, noted that the Antarctic Peninsula is one of the warmest regions in the world. Over the past 50 years, the temperature here has risen by almost three degrees.

    “This new record shows once again that climate change requires urgent measures,” said Celeste Saulo, director of Argentina’s SMN and first vice president of WMO. “It is essential to continue strengthening the observing, forecasting and early warning systems to respond to the extreme events that take place more and more often due to global warming.”

    Antarctica covers about 14 million km2. The average annual temperature ranges from -10° C on the coast to -60° C in the highest parts of the interior.

    The ice covering the continent is up to 4.8 km thick and contains 90% of all fresh water in the world. If the Antarctic ice ever melts, it will raise the sea level by about 60 m.

    Worrying new Antarctic record high temperature confirmed

    On February 6, 2020, Argentina’s national meteorological service known as SMN recorded a possible record at the Esperanza research base in Northern Antarctica. The WMO investigated the reading and finally confirmed it last week.

    “Verification of this maximum temperature record is important because it helps us to build up a picture of the weather and climate in one of Earth’s final frontiers,” Taalas said in a statement.

    Although the new record was set early last year, verification took a while. The WMO examined the weather patterns at the time and the equipment used to take the measurement.

    Scientists link an increase in extreme weather and new high temperatures to the planet’s climate crisis brought on by human activity. This year has already seen extreme heatwaves in the northern hemisphere and a busy start to the Atlantic hurricane season.

    The temperature +18.3° C, which was reported on Feb. 6, 2020, and verified by the United Nations (U.N.) agency on Thursday, was recorded at the Argentine Esperanza Research Station. 

    The U.N. agency said the previous all-time high for Antarctica was 63.5 degrees F, which was recorded on March 24, 2015, at the same research station.

    WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas noted that the new record was “consistent with the climate change we are observing.”

    “The Antarctic Peninsula (the northwest tip near to South America) is among the fastest-warming regions of the planet, almost 3°C over the last 50 years. This new temperature record is therefore consistent with the climate change we are observing,” Taalas said in a statement. “WMO is working in partnership with the Antarctic Treaty System to help conserve this pristine continent.”

    According to The Washington Post, the Argentine Esperanza Research Station is used to study climate science, meteorology, and oceanography, among other fields.

    While scientists confirmed the temperature record, the WMO also said this week that a report of a higher temperature of 69.35 degrees that was recorded at a Brazilian automated permafrost monitoring station on Feb. 9, 2020, was inaccurate.

    “Verification of this maximum temperature record is important because it helps us to build up a picture of the weather and climate in one of Earth’s final frontiers. Even more so than the Arctic, The Antarctic is poorly covered in terms of continuous and sustained weather and climate observations and forecasts, even though both play an important role in driving climate and ocean patterns and in sea-level rise,” Taalas said.

    According to a review conducted by a WMO committee at the time of both recorded temperatures, the area’s high pressure caused downward sloping winds that ultimately compressed and warmed the area rapidly, otherwise known as föhn. The committee said the föhn increased the temperatures in both research stations. 

    However, an analysis of the Brazilian research station found that a radiation shield that had to be improvised caused an error in the temperature that was initially recorded.

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