Antarctica Breaks the Ice Again


According to the weather blog Weather Underground, on Tuesday, March the 24th a new record high was set for Antarctica, deeming 63.5F (17.5C) as the warmest day. Allegedly this broke the record of 63.3F which was set just one day before. The previous warmest temperature dated back from 1961 and it was of 62.8F.

Currently, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the official global temperature records keeper, has yet to certify that these new highs are all-time records for Antarctica.  The verification process alone could take months for a validation. According to the WMO, the all-time high temperature for Antarctica was 59F in 1974.

The latest mentioned records were registered on Marambio Base on Monday the 23rd of March, and the second record on Tuesday at the Argentina Esperanza Base. The main issue with these kind of records for a continent is it requires a lot of data to be calculated, aggregated through an intense monitoring and intensive observing of the so-called COARE periods of time, synthesized to fit the pattern of a significant climate change and then confirmed by the official channels. Otherwise, they might appear to be isolated exceptions on the temperatures chart.

Another interesting debate would be the locations themselves. Judging by narrowest strict interpretation on what includes the Antarctica continent, only the sites south of the Antarctic Circle, Esperanza would not truly be part of the continent.

According to the official WMO temperatures record, the new readings are not out the context of the climate change. The polar regions are the most affected in terms of temperature changes by the rise in the greenhouse gas concentration levels in the atmosphere. Extended areas across the planet are setting record highs at a much faster rate than record lows. Since 2010, 46 countries or territories out of 235 have set or tied record highs, and only four have set record lows. According toWeather Underground, so far this year five nations or territories have set or tied records for high temperatures: Antarctica, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Wallis and Futuna Territory and Samoa.

To support the certification of the new temperature high records is the fact that the average high for March is 31.3F, making this week’s records more than 30F above the average. Temperature records have also been registered in October and December, so these new highs are not coming out of the blue antarctic sky.

These temperature developments are not something the WMO has not expected. The poles are warming at a pace faster than any other part of the planet and rapid ice melting is not anymore in the news bulletin. According to a new study, ice shelves in West Antarctica have lost as much as 18 percent in volume over the last two decades, with concerning acceleration over the last decade.

The Study of the Ozone Layer Over Antarctica of the World Meteorological Organization mentions the total amount of ozone depleting substances in the stratosphere is believed to have reached its maximum. This explains why the Antarctic Peninsula is the most rapidly warming region in the Southern Hemisphere, comparable to the rapidly warming regions of the Arctic.

The most puny of the climate changes, like butterfly wings can cause, is demanding the most immediate action. The big picture etched into all the official and unofficial data is that even if a new high temperature was not hit on the Antarctica, it is a matter of time until it will. The breaking news though is the consequences of this trend, which does not require any official confirmation or WMO certification. As it relates to the ozone hole getting larger, the new record highs at the Antarctica are only a warning sign that the ice melting at the South Pole is something which will not wait for months until the WMO gathers all the data and certifies that a new high temperature record has been set. It might be too late by then.

By Adrian Nita


World Meteorological Organization

Weather Underground

Think Progress


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