Antarctica set a new temperature record of more than 18C this week, the World Meteorological Organization says, raising concerns about the accelerated destruction of the Earth’s ice sheet and rising sea levels. World Meteorological Organization spokesman Clare Nullis said the Esperanza research base in Argentina recorded a new record temperature of 18.3 degrees Celsius yesterday, a figure that is not usually associated with Antarctica even in the summer. That broke the record of 17.5C set in 2015.
Experts from the World Meteorological Organization will now verify whether this extreme temperature will be defined as a new record for high temperatures on the Antarctic continent, the Earth’s main land mass. Conceptually, the Antarctic continent should not be confused with the Antarctic region, which refers to anywhere south of 60 degrees south latitude. In the Antarctic, a high temperature of 19.8 degrees Celsius was recorded on Signy Island in January 1982.
The northern Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest warming regions on Earth, with temperatures rising nearly 3 degrees Celsius over the past 50 years, Nuris said. With temperatures continuing to rise, the Antarctic ice sheet lost at least six times as much ice each year between 1979 and 2017.
“Over the past 50 years, about 87 per cent of the glaciers on the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula have melted, most of them accelerating in the last 12 years,” Nouris warned. “
The main tributary of the West Antarctic ice sheet, particularly pine island glaciers, is of particular concern, where the first two large rifts discovered in early 2019 have grown to about 20 kilometres.
Antarctica is cold, windy and dry, about twice the size of Australia. The average annual temperature ranges from minus 10 degrees Celsius on the Antarctic coast to minus 60 degrees Celsius at the highest point in the interior.
Antarctica’s vast ice sheet is 4.8 km thick, accounting for 90 per cent of the world’s fresh water, and if the ice sheet in Antarctica is melted completely, it will be enough to raise the world’s sea level by about 60 metres.
In a major report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last September, researchers warned that melting polar ice caps linked to rising sea levels could endanger the survival of hundreds of millions of people.