The United Nations on Thursday recognised a new record high temperature for the Antarctic continent, confirming a reading of 18.3 degrees Celsius (64.9 degrees Fahrenheit) made last year. The record heat was reached at Argentina’s Esperanza research station on the Antarctic Peninsula on February 6, 2020, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization said.
“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,” said WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas. “The Antarctic Peninsula is among the fastest-warming regions of the planet — almost 3C over the last 50 years.” “This new temperature record is therefore consistent with the climate change we are observing.” The WMO rejected an even higher temperature reading of 20.75C (69.4F), reported on February 9 last year at a Brazilian automated permafrost monitoring station on the nearby Seymour Island, just off the peninsula which stretches north towards South America. The previous verified record for the Antarctic continent — the mainland and its surrounding islands — was 17.5C (63.5F) recorded at Esperanza on March 24, 2015. The record for the wider Antarctic region — everywhere south of 60 degrees latitude — is 19.8C (67.6F), taken on Signy Island on January 30, 1982.
In checking the two reported new temperature records, a WMO committee reviewed the weather situation on the peninsula at the time. It found that a large high-pressure system created downslope winds producing significant local surface warming. Past evaluations have shown that such conditions are conducive for producing record temperatures, the WMO said. The experts looked at the instrumental set-ups and the data, finding no concerns at Esperanza.