The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has officially confirmed a new temperature record in Antarctica of 18.3 degrees Celsius, recorded last year. Temperatures rose in the vicinity of the Argentine Research Station Espersance on the Antarctic Peninsula on February 6, 2020. This was announced in a press release on Phys.org.
The previous record for Antarctica was set at the same location on March 24, 2015, when temperatures rose to 17.5 degrees Celsius. For the entire Antarctic region, which lies south of 60 degrees south latitude, the record temperature is 19.8 degrees Celsius, which was reached on January 30, 1982, on Signy Island.
According to experts, the 2020 record is consistent with the Antarctic Peninsula, one of the fastest-heating regions. The average temperature here has risen by three degrees Celsius over the past 50 years.
Experts have not confirmed an even higher temperature reported by an automated monitoring station on February 9, 2020 (20.75 degrees Celsius) on Seymour Island. To verify the temperature data, the scientists analyzed the weather conditions over the stations. They found out that there was an anticyclone over the peninsula at that time, with descending warm air currents heating the surface. In the case of Seymour Island, nothing of the kind was observed, and the air temperature sensors were mistaken due to the failure of the impromptu protection of the station from the sun’s rays.
The Earth’s average surface temperature has risen by one degree Celsius since the 19th century, enough to increase the intensity of droughts, heatwaves, and tropical cyclones. But the warming of the air over Antarctica turned out to be twice as large – by two degrees Celsius. Recent studies have shown that such warming could accelerate the melting of ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica to the point of no return when their degradation will inevitably lead to sea-level rise (maximum 13 meters) and inundation of densely populated coastal areas.