On Thursday Jul 1st, a new record high temperature for the Antarctic continent was recognised by the United Nations. A reading of 18.3 degrees Celsius made last year is now confirmed.
On Feb 6th, 2020, the record heat was reached at Argentina’s Esperanza research station on the Antarctic Peninsula. This is according to the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas 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.”
“The Antarctic Peninsula is among the fastest-warming regions of the planet – almost 3 degrees Celsius over the last 50 years.”
“This new temperature record is therefore consistent with the climate change we are observing.”
Earlier report rejected
An even higher temperature reading of 20.75 degrees Celsius reported on Feb 9 last year was rejected by the WMO. The report was from a Brazilian automated permafrost monitoring station on the nearby Seymour Island, just off the peninsula. Seymour Island stretches north towards South America.
The Antarctic continent, the mainland and its surrounding islands had a previous verified record of 17.5 degrees Celsius. This record was recorded on Mar 24th, 2015 at Esperanza.
19.8 degrees Celsius
Taken on Signy Island on Jan 30th, 1982, the record for the wider Antarctic region, everywhere south of 60 degrees latitude, is 19.8 degrees Celsius.
Temperature verification process
A WMO committee reviewed the weather situation on the peninsula while checking the two reported new temperature records at the time.
Significant local surface warming was produced from a large high-pressure system that created downslope winds, according to the committee’s findings. Such weather conditions are conducive for producing record temperatures based on past evaluations.
The experts found no concerns at Esperanza, while checking the instrumental set-ups and the data.
However, a demonstrable thermal bias error for the permafrost monitor’s air temperature sensor was detected. The error is the result of an improvised radiation shield at the Brazilian station on Seymour Island. This makes its reading ineligible to be accepted as an official WMO weather observation.
The WMO’s archive of weather and climate extremes will receive the new record at Esperanza.
The world’s highest and lowest temperatures, rainfall, heaviest hailstone, longest dry period, maximum gust of wind, longest lightning flash and weather-related mortalities are found in the WMO archive.
The lowest temperature ever recorded on Earth is minus 89.2 degrees Celsius. The record was from the Vostok station in Antarctica on Jul 21st, 1983 .
Around minus 10 degrees Celsius on the coast to minus 60 degrees Celsius at the highest parts of its interior, is the range for Antarctica’s average annual temperature.
Taalas said “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.“
Since the 19th century, the Earth’s average surface temperature has risen by 1 degree Celsius. This is enough to increase the intensity of tropical cyclones, heat waves, and droughts.
In Antarctica, the air over has warmed more than twice that much.
The melting of ice sheets atop Greenland and the West Antarctic could happen if the temperature rises by two degrees Celsius. This is according to recent research. If such a situation does arise, the melting ice could lift oceans 13 metres high. It would be a point of no return by then.
WMO first vice president is Celeste Saulo, who is also the head of Argentina’s national weather service. Saulo said “This new record shows once again that climate change requires urgent measures.”
“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.”
2nd July 2021 23:00
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