UN reports Antarctica’s highest temperatures on record
The UN’s World Meteorological Organization published the highest temperatures on record in three Antarctic zones on Wednesday, setting a benchmark for studying how climate change is affecting this crucial region.
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.
For the continent itself, a maximum of 17.5 C was recorded on March 24, 2015, near the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.
Finally, the highest temperature for the Antarctic Plateau – at or above 2,500 metres was minus 7 C, on December 28, 1980, at a weather station.
Getting a better grip on how global warming might impact the world’s largest ice mass is of more than academic interest.
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.
The continent’s western peninsula, close to the tip of South America, is already among the fastest warming regions on the planet, hotting up by 3 C over the last half century – three times the global average.
The lowest temperature yet recorded by ground measurements for the Antarctic Region – and the whole world — was minus 89.2 C at Vostok station on July 21, 1983.
Northern hemisphere sees in early spring due to global warming
Spring is arriving ever earlier in the northern hemisphere. One sedge species in Greenland is springing to growth 26 days earlier than it did a decade ago. And in the US, spring arrived 22 days early this year in Washington DC.