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Antarctica has hottest day on record as mercury hits 18C, data shows

Barbijo penguins are among the residents of Earth's southernmost continent (Picture: AFP via Getty Images)

Antarctica has experienced its hottest temperature on record, with the mercury hitting a staggering 18.3C.

The reading beats the continent's previous record of 17.5C seen in March 2015, according to the Argentinian research station Esperanza, which collected the data.

The United Nations’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) shared the finding from Argentina’s meteorological association on Twitter.

The Antarctic Peninsula, the northwest tip near South America, is one of the world’s fastest warming regions, with temperatures rising almost 3C over the past 50 years, the WMO reported.

Around 87 per cent of the glaciers along its west coast have “retreated” over those five decades and have shown an “accelerated retreat” in the past 12 years, it added.

Professor James Renwick, a climate scientist at Victoria University of Wellington, told the Guardian Australia the WMO committee would likely reconvene to officially confirm the new temperature record.

He told the paper: “The reading is impressive as it’s only five years since the previous record was set and this is almost one degree centigrade higher. It’s a sign of the warming that has been happening there that’s much faster than the global average.

“To have a new record set that quickly is surprising but who knows how long that will last? Possibly not that long at all.”

The Argentinian Esperanza military base recorded the record temperature (AFP via Getty Images)

Esperanza, located near the northern tip of the Peninsula, has been collecting data since 1961.

The reading breaks the 2015 record for the Antarctic continent, defined as the main continental landmass and adjoining islands by the WMO.

However, the record for the Antarctic region – defined as all land and ice south of 60 degrees latitude – is 19.8C . It was recorded on Signy Island in January 1982.

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