FunNature & AnimalHeat in Antarctica: a station registers 18.3 degrees

Heat in Antarctica: a station registers 18.3 degrees

18.3 ° C is not a figure that attracts much attention when we talk about a sunny winter day in the Spanish Levant, but things change when we refer to Antarctica, a continent whose average annual temperature ranges between -10 ° C on the coast and -60 ° C inland.

A few days ago, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported that the extreme north of the Antarctic peninsula had broken a heat record by reaching 18.3 ° C and exceeding the 17.5 ° C reached on March 24, 2015. The data were provided by the National Meteorological Service of Argentina, and a WMO Committee will be in charge of verifying them in the coming days.

The organization has also specified that, if we refer to the entire Antarctic region, that is, to the entire area that is south of 60 degrees south latitude , we would not be talking about a temperature record, since this would have been broken in 1982. That year 19.8 ° C was recorded on Signy Island, belonging to the South Orkney archipelago in Antarctica.

In any case, what is striking about this data is that it reminds us that the Antarctic Peninsula is one of the regions of the planet that is experiencing the fastest warming in the last 50 years. The WMO has recalled that the increase of almost 3 ° C in the average temperature of the frozen continent has caused the amount of melted ice to multiply by six between 1979 and 2017.

Glacier retreat

It is estimated that during the last 50 years, about 87% of the glaciers on the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula have retreated , a process that has accelerated in recent years. A study published in August 2019 in the journal Nature Geoscience showed that global warming caused by anthropogenic activity in recent years has caused a change in the winds that blow near the glaciers of West Antarctica. The work also warned that, if the trend of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is followed, these types of anomalies will become much more frequent but, nevertheless, climate models show that, if GHG concentrations stabilize, the wind changes will become weaker and weaker.

In October 2019, the European Space Agency (ESA) warned of the presence of new crevasses in the Pine Island glacier, one of the main ice arteries in the western area of Antarctica. These two large cracks were first detected by ESA satellites in early 2019 and since then each has grown rapidly to 20 kilometers in length.

The WMO has recalled that, as with the Arctic, the temperature records in Antarctica are essential for the study and projections of climate change, since both play an important role in the control of climatic and oceanic patterns and in the Rising sea levels”.

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