Equilibrium & Sustainability

Antarctica hit record high temperature in 2020, scientists confirm

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Antarctica logged a new high temperature record of 64.94 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 Celsius) in 2020, scientists with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed this week.

The temperature, 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, 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. 

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

Tags Antarctica Climate change

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