Antarctica may have just recorded its hottest temperatures ever

Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com – @BednarChuck

The coldest continent on Earth may have just set an all-time record for its hottest day ever, as an Argentinean-operated reportedly recorded temperatures of 63.5 degrees Fahrenheit (17.5 degrees Celsius) on March 24, according to various media outlets.

The temperature reported last Tuesday at Base Esperanza came one day after Base Marambia, a second Argentinean facility located roughly 60 miles (100 kilometers) southeast of Esperanza, reported a reading of 63.3 degrees Fahrenheit (17.4 degrees Celsius), Weather Underground said. Both figures surpass any previously record temperature at their respective locations.

Esperanza’s previous record high of 62.7 degrees Fahrenheit (17.1 degrees Celsius) was recorded back on April 24, 1961, while the previous record high at Marambia was 61.7 degrees Fahrenheit (16.5 degrees Celsium) was on December 7, 1992, the website added.

Indian summer?

If the reports are investigated and verified by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), it would become the highest temperature on record for the entire continent of Antarctica, according to Mashable. The previous record high of 59 degree Fahrenheit (15 degree Celsius) was recorded at Vanda Station, a now-automated facility located near 77 degrees south latitude, in 1974.

“Despite the fact that the temperature record from Vanda appears on the list of world weather extremes maintained by the WMO, the WMO has not yet investigated all-time weather records for Antarctica,” Weather Underground said.

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“One surprising aspect of the temperatures measured recently at Esperanza and Marambio are that they occurred in autumn, nearly three months past the usual warmest time of the year in the Antarctic Peninsula,” the website added. December is typically the warmest month in Esperanza.

The average high temperatures in March there are typically just 31.3 degrees Fahrenheit (-0.4 degrees Celsius), meaning that the records were over 30 degrees Fahrenheit (17 degrees Celsius) above average.

We’ll have to wait for verification

To verify the records, the WMO will need to make sure that the equipment was functioning properly when the temperatures were recorded. That process could take several months, but it could be complicated by the very definition of what Antarctica really is.

If the WMO opts to use only observations south of the Antarctic Circle for temperature records in the region, it would exclude the Esperanza reading, even though it is connected to areas that are south of the circle. If they used the landmass of Antarctica, though, the temperatures recorded at Esperanza would likely stand up as the warmest ever recorded, Mashable said.

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Weather Underground said that the records “were made possible by an unusually extreme jet stream contortion that brought a strong ridge of high pressure over the Antarctic Peninsula, allowing warm air from South America to push southwards over Antarctica. At the surface, west to east blowing winds over the Antarctic Peninsula rose up over the 1,000-foot high mountains just to the west of Esperanza Base, then descended and warmed via adiabatic compression.”

Thus far, five countries and territories have tied or hit all-time high temperature records so far this year, according to CNBC. The website also states that the Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest warming places on Earth.

antarctica temps

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