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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Conrad Duncan

Climate change: Antarctica experiences record-high temperature of more than 18C

Antarctica has experienced its hottest temperature on record with a provisional recording of 18.3C – nearly 1C higher than the previous record – according to researchers.

The Argentine research station Esperanza, which collected the data, said the figure beat the previous record of 17.5C in March 2015 by 0.8C.

It comes after the world saw the warmest January on record last month, according to the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, with temperatures in Europe 0.2C higher than during the previous warmest January in 2007.

A committee for the United NationsWorld Meteorological Organisation (WMO) will now work to verify whether the new record for the continent is correct.

“Everything we have seen thus far indicates a likely legitimate record but we will of course begin a formal evaluation of the record once we have full data from SMN and on the meteorological conditions surrounding the event,” Randy Cerveny, WMO’s Weather and Climate Extremes rapporteur, said.

“The record appears to be likely associated (in the short term) with what we call a regional ‘foehn’ event over the area: a rapid warming of air coming down a slope/mountain,” Mr Cerveny added.

The Antarctic peninsula, the northwest tip near South America, is among the fastest warming regions on Earth, with temperatures rising almost 3C over the past 50 years, according to the WMO.

The organisation added that about 87 per cent of the glaciers along the peninsula’s west coast have “retreated” over the last 50 years, with most showing an “accelerated retreat” in the last 12 years.

On Thursday, a major hole was discovered in the Thwaites Glacier, which could send sea levels surging by up to two feet if it dissolved completely.

Scientists have found a cavity beneath the glacier that is far larger than previously thought.

“The size of the cavity is surprising, and, as it melts, it’s causing the glacier to retreat,” Pietro Milillo, a Nasa radar scientist who led the research into the glacier, said.

The Esperanza research base, located near the northern tip of the peninsula, has been collecting data since 1961.

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

The record for the Antarctic region, which is defined as all land and ice south of 60 degrees latitude, is a temperature of 19.8C recorded on Signy Island in January 1982, the WMO said.

Additional reporting by PA

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