World Meteorological Organization, announced the records for the highest temperatures recorded in the Antarctic region, earlier this week. A team of scientists verified the temperature extremes.
The “Antarctic continent” covers the main continental landmass and also adjoining islands. The highest temperature recorded recorded as on 24 March 2015 was 17.5°C (63.5°F). The team recorded at the Argentine Research Base Esperanza located near the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. The highest temperature so-far is however 19.8 degrees Celsius as on 30 January 1982 at Signy Research Station, Borge Bay on Signy Island.
The verification of these Antarctic extremes helps increase understanding about the Antarctic’s distinct climatic regimes. The news read, “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”.
The Antarctic region, spanning 14 million square kilometers is cold, windy and dry. The average annual temperature ranges from about −10°C on the Antarctic coast to −60°C at the highest parts of the interior. The ice sheet is up to 4.8 km thick. It contains 90% of the world’s fresh water.
The Antarctic Peninsula is now among the fastest warming regions of the planet, almost 3°C over the last 50 years. Rising temperatures in the Antarctic are a particular concern. This rise causes ice to melt at an alarming rate. This, thereby causes rise in sea levels. The ice sheets have fresh water enough to raise sea level by around 60 metres were it all to melt.
The WMO scientists and their colleagues hope to learn more. They aim to increase weather forecasting capability during the Year of Polar Prediction project. This project will last from mid-2017 to mid-2019, the WMO said. Such researches are most welcomed as they give a clear picture of possible threats as of global warming is concerned.