Antarctica Set A New Temperature Record

Leslie Dixon
March 5, 2017

Temperatures in Antarctica have reached a record high, hitting an unprecedented 17.5C, the United Nations weather agency has announced.

The highest temperature recorded recorded as on 24 March 2015 was 17.5°C (63.5°F). The average annual temperature ranges from about 14 degrees F on the Antarctic coast to about minus-76 degrees F (minus-60 degrees C) in Antarctica's higher-elevation interior, the WMO said.

Mapping Antarctica's extremes is essential for understanding weather patterns, and teasing out natural climate variability from human-induced climate change, the WMO said in a statement. The highest temperature for the Antarctic Region was recorded in 1982 at the Signy Research Station on Signy Island off the coast of the peninsula where the highest continental temperature was recorded as 67.6 degrees. A team of scientists verified the temperature extremes.

Antarctica logged a record-cold temperature in 2014, according to NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt, but until confirmed by the WMO, the coldest temperature ever recorded in the South Pole was -128.6 degrees Fahrenheit at the Soviet Union's Vostok Station on July 21, 1983.

The region is made up of ice 4.8 kilometres thick, which contains 90 per cent of the world's fresh water.

The Antarctic Peninsula is among the most rapidly warming areas of the planet, with temperatures having increased by nearly 3C over the last 50 years. Meltwater is fairly alarming, he said, because it can lead to the rapid retreat of coastal ice, as well as sea-level rise. Rising temperatures in the Antarctic are a particular concern.

This causes sea levels to rise and has an impact on everything from global temperatures to ocean currents. Its huge ice sheet is about 4.8 km (3 miles) thick and contains 90 percent of the world's fresh water, enough to raise sea levels by around 60 meters (200 feet) if it were all to melt. They aim to increase weather forecasting capability during the Year of Polar Prediction project.

The WMO published the report online March 1 in a continuing effort to expand its worldwide database on extreme weather and climate conditions, the organization said. Such researches are most welcomed as they give a clear picture of possible threats as of global warming is concerned.

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