Nav: Home

WMO verifies highest temperatures for Antarctic Region

March 01, 2017

The World Meteorological Organization announced today new verified record high- temperatures in Antarctica, an area once described as "the last place on Earth." The temperatures range from the high 60s (in Fahrenheit) to the high teens, depending on the location they were recorded in Antarctica.

Knowledge and verification of such extremes are important in the study of weather patterns, naturally occurring climate variability and human induced change at global and regional scales, said Randy Cerveny, an Arizona State University professor of geographical science and urban planning and the Rapporteur of Climate and Weather Extremes for the WMO.

"The temperatures we announced today are the absolute limit to what we have measured in Antarctica," Cerveny said. "Comparing them to other places around the world and seeing how other places have changed in relation to Antarctica gives us a much better understanding of how climate interacts, and how changes in one part of the world can impact other places."

Because Antarctica is so vast (it is roughly the size of the United States) and varied the WMO committee of experts, convened by Cerveny, provided three temperature measurements for the Antarctic.

The highest temperature for the "Antarctic region" (defined by the WMO and the United Nations as all land and ice south of 60-deg S) of 19.8 C (67.6 F), which was observed on Jan. 30, 1982 at Signy Research Station, Borge Bay on Signy Island.

The highest temperature for the Antarctic Continent, defined as the main continental landmass and adjoining islands, is the temperature extreme of 17.5 C (63.5 F) recorded on Mar. 24, 2015 at the Argentine Research Base Esperanza located near the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.

The highest temperature for the Antarctic Plateau (at or above 2,500 meters, or 8,200 feet) was -7 C (19.4 F) made on Dec. 28, 1980 at an automatic weather station site D-80 located inland of the Adelie Coast.

The Antarctic is cold, windy and dry. The average annual temperature ranges from -10 C on its coasts to -60 C (14 F to -76 F) at the highest points in the interior. Its immense ice sheet is about 4.8 km (3 miles) thick and contains 90 percent of the world's fresh water, enough to raise sea levels by around 60 meters (200 feet) if it were all to melt.

Cerveny said that observing the extremes of what the Polar Regions are experiencing can provide a better picture of the planet's interlinked weather system.

"The polar regions of our planet have been termed the 'canary' in our global environment," Cerveny said. "Because of their sensitivity to climate changes, sometimes the first influences of changes in our global environment can be seen in the north and south polar regions. Knowledge of the weather extremes in these locations therefore becomes particularly important to the entire world. The more we know of this critically important area to our environment, the more we can understand how all of our global environments are interlinked."

Cerveny said an additional benefit is understanding how those extremes were achieved.

"In the case of the Antarctic extremes, two of them were the result of what are called 'foehn' winds - what we call Chinook winds - very warm downslope winds that can very rapidly heat up a place. These winds are found even here in the United States, particularly along the front range of the Rockies. The more we learn about how they vary around the world, the better we can understand them even here in the United States.

Full details of the Antarctic high temperatures and their assessment are given in the on-line issue of Eos Earth and Space Science News of the American Geophysical Union, published on Mar. 1, 2017.
-end-


Arizona State University

Related Antarctica Articles:

Flat Antarctica
Temperatures in the Arctic are increasing twice as fast as in the rest of the globe, while the Antarctic is warming at a much slower rate.
Antarctica 'greening' due to climate change
Plant life on Antarctica is growing rapidly due to climate change, scientists have found.
Teleconnection between the tropical Pacific and Antarctica
The higher the seawater temperature in the tropical Pacific, the more likely ice breakup will occur in East Antarctica, according to Hokkaido University researchers.
Thought Antarctica's biodiversity was doing well? Think again
Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are not in better environmental shape than the rest of the world.
Antarctica's biodiversity is under threat
A unique international study has debunked the popular view that Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are in much better ecological shape than the rest of the world.
Water is streaming across Antarctica
In the first such continent-wide survey, scientists have found extensive drainages of meltwater flowing over parts of Antarctica's ice during the brief summer.
Unraveling the mystery of snowflakes, from the Alps to Antarctica
Using a special multi-angle camera, EPFL researchers have gained important insights into the structure of snowflakes.
Poor outlook for biodiversity in Antarctica: Study finds
An international study led by Monash scientists has debunked the popular view that Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are in a much better environmental shape than the rest of the world.
Poor outlook for biodiversity in Antarctica
The popular view that Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are in a much better environmental shape than the rest of the world has been brought into question in a study publishing on March 28 in the open access journal PLOS Biology, by an international team lead by Steven L.
New species discovered in Antarctica
A team of Japanese scientists has discovered a new species of polychaete, a type of marine annelid worm, 9-meters deep underwater near Japan's Syowa Station in Antarctica, providing a good opportunity to study how animals adapt to extreme environments.

Related Antarctica Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...