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WMO checking Antarctic heat record

Ben Domensino, Tuesday February 11, 2020 - 21:03 EDT

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) will assemble an expert panel to assess the validity of a new maximum temperature record observed in Antarctica last week.

An Argentine research base located near the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula (the bit that juts out towards South America) recorded a temperature of 18.3 degrees Celsius on Thursday, February 6th.

This value is higher than any other temperature reliably recorded on the Antarctic continent and if deemed legitimate, it beats the previous record of 17.5 degrees set at the same location on March 24th, 2015. This site has been recording temperatures since 1953.

While there is no obvious reason to discredit the new record, the WMO approval process is an important step to verify and certify the observation. Assessing this extreme weather record is particularly important because Antarctica is one of the least observed places on earth when it comes to meteorological observations.

According to the WMO, the Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest warming regions in the world, with temperatures rising almost three degrees within the last 50 years.

Unsurprisingly, Antarctica is also home to the lowest temperature on record. This was -89.2 degrees Celsius at the Russian Vostok base in 1983.

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