Antarctica May Have Just Set Its Highest Temperature Ever at 63.5 Degrees

In this Jan. 27, 2015 photo, penguins walk on the shore of Bahia Almirantazgo in Antarctica. (PHOTO CREDIT: Natacha Pisarenko/AP)
In this Jan. 27, 2015 photo, penguins walk on the shore of Bahia Almirantazgo in Antarctica. (PHOTO CREDIT: Natacha Pisarenko/AP)

Antarctica, Earth’s coldest, most barren continent, may have just set a remarkably unusual weather record. An Argentinian research station on the rapidly warming Antarctic Peninsula recorded a high temperature of 63.5 degrees Fahrenheit (17.5 degrees Celsius) on March 24, according to reports from Weather Underground.

If this is investigated and verified by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), it could become the highest temperature on record for the entire continent of Antarctica.

The warmth at the Esperanza research station came one day after a nearly identical high temperature was logged at another Argentinean base, known as Base Marambio, also located along the Antarctic Peninsula. Interestingly, the mild conditions occurred during the Antarctic fall, not the height of summer.

Both of these readings are the warmest temperatures on record for those locations, and as weather historian Christopher Burt writes at Weather Underground, the Esperanza high temperature exceeds any high temperature reading on either the Peninsula or the Antarctic landmass in general. Data at Esperanza extends back to 1945.

The WMO in Geneva, which is the official arbiter of global temperature records, maintains that the all-time warmest temperature in Antarctica was 59 degrees Fahrenheit, set at the Vanda Station on Jan. 5, 1974.

For the high temperature to be classified as a record for the icy continent of Antarctica, the WMO would have to verify that the equipment was working properly at the time, which is a process that could take months, if not longer, and consider other criteria, such as the definition of continental Antarctica itself.

“Although this is the warmest temperature ever measured since weather stations became established on the southern continent, it is complicated by what the very definition of ‘Antarctica’ is,” Burt reports.

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SOURCE: Mashable, Andrew Freedman

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