WMO Confirms 63.5° Fahrenheit Record High In Antarctica

03 March, 2017, 00:27 | Author: Lorena Waters
  • Example of a Foehn environment. Image courtesy of UCAR  Comet Modules

The World Meteorological Organization reported this week the highest heat record in Antarctica at 63.5° Fahrenheit.

An worldwide team of experts has set a benchmark for global climate change by verifying the most extreme temperatures observed in Antarctica, says a New Zealand scientist who took part in the study.

For the entire Antarctic region - all land and ice below 60 degrees South latitude - the highest temperature recorded was 19.8 degrees Celsius (67.6 degrees Fahrenheit), on January 30, 1982, at a research station on Signy Island.

The WMO also measures record high temps, pressure, precipitation, wind and other variables to track the climate as it changes over time.

"Knowledge and verification of such extremes is important in the study of weather patterns, naturally occurring climate variability and human-induced climate change at global and regional scales", said Renwick.

The Antarctic is cold, windy and dry.

Spanning an area twice the size of Australia, Antarctica's ice sheet - up to 4.8km thick - contains 90% of the world's fresh water, enough to raise sea levels by about 60 metres were it to melt.

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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.

The warming can be felt even during short visits down south, said Jamin Greenbaum, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics, who was not involved in the new report.

Meltwater is the result of high temperatures that can melt the surface of the ice and snow, Greenbaum said.

Larsen C extends along the east coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, where Esperanza base recorded its record high. With a gradual level of sea rise already detected, the new temperature spikes recorded by the World Meteorological Organization certainly put the situation in Antarctica in perspective, as scientists strive to get climate action underway in order to stop the devastating effects of climate change.

"There was so much [meltwater] that even a large section of the snow road we take every day collapsed, forcing us to use helicopters to commute between the research station and the airfield", Greenbaum said.

The new report may help scientists figure out what's behind these high temperatures.

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