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20C in Antarctic for first time

Tuesday 18th February 2020 | Jake

The Antarctic experienced its hottest temperature on record, with a group of Brazilian scientists logging an “incredible and abnormal” 20.75C at Seymour Island. Speaking to AFP Carlos Schaefer, a scientist working on the Brazilian government project Terrantar, said his team of scientists were “seeing the warming trend in many of the sites we are monitoring, but we have never seen anything like this”.

The temperature is yet to be confirmed by the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The previous record temperature, logged by WMO, was 19.8C in January 1982, with data analysed by the UN scientists showing the temperatures in Antarctica have increased by almost 3C in 50 years. Schaefer acknowledged the temperature was indicative of a “warming trend”, but was also a consequence of irregular ocean currents and El Niño events: “We have climatic changes in the atmosphere, which is closely related to changes in permafrost and the ocean.”

 

Al Jazeera looks at Antarctica's record temperature

Terrantar’s reading took place at the Marambio base at Seymour Island, western Antarctica. Antarctica is currently approaching the end of its summer, with average temperatures in the warmer months just above freezing. In the northern hemisphere, the Arctic region also recently experienced a record temperature. According to the BBC a temperature of 21C was recorded in the Canadian Arctic last July.

Antarctica’s unwelcome record has far-reaching and potentially disastrous consequences. The Guardian notes that about 70% of Earth’s fresh water is stored in snow and ice in the Antarctic. Should just a fraction of that melt into the ocean, sea levels would rise dangerously.

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