UN confirms 18.3 C record heat in Antarctica

The pool was cut into the ice using chainsaws. Antarctica. Photo: SBS News. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

GENEVA, Jul 4, 2021, Xinhua. The United Nations recognized a new record high temperature for the Antarctic continent on Thursday, confirming a reading of 18.3 C made last year, China Daily reported.

The record heat was reached at Argentina’s Esperanza research station on the Antarctic Peninsula on Feb 6 last year, according to the UN’s World Meteorological Organization.

“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 3 C 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 20.75 C, reported on Feb 9 last year at a Brazilian automated permafrost monitoring station on the nearby Seymour Island, just off the peninsula which stretches north toward South America.

The previous verified record for the Antarctic continent-the mainland and its surrounding islands-was 17.5 C recorded at Esperanza on March 24, 2015.

The record for the wider Antarctic region-everywhere south of 60 degrees latitude-is 19.8 C, taken on Signy Island on Jan 30, 1982.

In order to check the two new reported 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.

The WMO said past evaluations have shown that such conditions are conducive for producing record temperatures.

Experts looked at instrumental setups and the data, finding no concerns at Esperanza.

However, an improvised radiation shield at the Brazilian station on Seymour Island led to a demonstrable thermal bias error for the permafrost monitor’s air temperature sensor, making its reading ineligible to be signed off as an official WMO weather observation.

The new record at Esperanza will be added to the WMO’s archive of weather and climate extremes.

The archive includes the world’s highest and lowest temperatures, rainfalls, heaviest hailstones, longest dry periods, maximum wind gust, longest lightning flashes and weather related mortalities.

The lowest temperature ever recorded on Earth was -89.2 C recorded at Vostok station in Antarctica on July 21, 1983.

Antarctica’s average annual temperature ranges from about-10 C on the coast to -60 C at the highest parts of the interior.

The Earth’s average surface temperature has gone up by 1 C since the 19th century, enough to increase the intensity of droughts, heat waves and tropical cyclones.

But the air over Antarctica has warmed more than twice as much.

Recent research has shown that warming of 2 C could push the melting of ice sheets atop Greenland and the West Antarctic-with enough frozen water to lift oceans by 13 meters-past the point of no return.

“This new record shows once again that climate change requires urgent measures,” said WMO’s first vice-president Celeste Saulo, the head of Argentina’s National Weather Service. “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.”

Agencies Via Xinhua

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