- Temperatures at the Experanza base in Antarctica reached 17.5°C (63.5°F)
- The area was hit by a two-day heatwave that beat previous temperature records
- The World Meteorological Organisation confirmed the record on Wednesday
- East Antarctica’s Peninsula is one of the fastest warming areas on the continent
Antarctica has experienced its highest temperature on record, according to meteorologists.
A research base near the northern tip of the Antarctic peninsula has set a heat record at 17.5°C (63.5°F).
The World Meteorological Organisation confirmed that the temperatures, which struck the region in 2015, were record breaking on Wednesday.
The Experanza base set the high on March 24, 2015, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said after reviewing data that was taken at the station.
‘Verification of maximum and minimum temperatures help us to build up a picture of the weather and climate in one of Earth’s final frontiers,’ said Michael Sparrow, a polar expert with the World Climate Research Programme.
Antarctica locks up 90 per cent of the world’s fresh water as ice and would raise sea levels by about 60 metres (200 ft) if it were all to melt, scientists have said.
The heat record for the broader Antarctic region, defined as anywhere south of 60 degrees latitude, was 19.8°C (67.6°F) on Jan 30, 1982 on Signy Island in the South Atlantic.
The graphic above shows rates of thickness change around the Antarctic coastline with areas of most loss in the past 18 years indicated by red circles and areas where ice has increased shown by blue circles
And the warmest temperature recorded on the Antarctic plateau, above 2,500 metres (8,202 feet), was -7.0°C (19.4°F) on Dec 28, 1980.
Wednesday’s WMO report only examined the highs.
The lowest temperature set anywhere on the planet was a numbing -89.2°C (-128.6°F) at the Soviet Union’s Vostok station in central Antarctica on July 21, 1983.
Writing for website Weather Underground, meteorologist Dr Jeff Masters said in 2015: ‘A new all-time temperature record for an entire continent is a rare event.
‘This week’s record temperatures 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 (without transfer of heat) into a warm foehn wind (a warm dry wind that blows down a slope).’
The record-high temperatures were recorded at the Argentine Experanza Base in the Antarctic Peninsula on the north-west coast of East Antarctica
The collapse of the Larson B shelf (shown above) on the Antarctic Peninsula is one example of the changes that have been taking place on the continent in recent years and have caused concern among some scientists
The Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest warming spots on Earth.
While most of the continent has experienced an increase in ice sheet mass, nearly 10,000 square miles of ice has been lost from the ice shelves off coast of the Peninsula.
Glaciers extending out from the fjords of the Antarctic Peninsula have also been retreating, according to researchers.
Climate scientists have blamed the changes happening there on human-generated global warming.