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article imageIt's T-shirt weather in Antarctica as temperatures break records

By Karen Graham     Feb 7, 2020 in Environment
The temperature in Antarctica reached a record-breaking 18.3 degrees Celsius (65 Fahrenheit) at one site on Thursday, almost a full degree above the previous high set five years ago.
The balmy reading was taken by Argentina's National Meteorological Service at the country's Esperanza research station on the northern tip of the continent’s peninsula and beats Antarctica’s previous record of 17.5C, set in March 2015, according to The Guardian.
"The reading is impressive as it's only five years since the previous record was set and this is almost one-degree centigrade higher," Victoria University of Wellington climate scientist James Renwick, who has verified previous Antarctic records for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), told The Guardian. "It's a sign of the warming that has been happening there that's much faster than the global average."
While not surprising, the temperatures are shocking, said Frida Bengtsson, who is leading an expedition to the Antarctic for the environmental group Greenpeace, per Bloomberg.
From white to green: plant life is booming in Antarctica as the climate warms.
From white to green: plant life is booming in Antarctica as the climate warms.
University of Exeter/Matt Amesbury
“We’ve been in the Antarctic for the last month, documenting the dramatic changes this part of the world is undergoing as our planet warms,” she said in an email.
“In the last month, we’ve seen penguin colonies sharply declining under the impacts of climate change in this supposedly pristine environment.”
Prof. Renwick explained that the higher temperatures being recorded in the region coincide with strong northwesterly winds coming down mountain slopes. He noted also that while there are complex weather patterns in the area, the Esperanza reading was likely a combination of natural variability and background warming caused by rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
He said: “The reason the peninsula is warming faster than other places is a combination of natural variations and warming signals.”
Australian National University climate scientist Nerilie Abram said that it sometimes gets warm enough to wear a t-shirt. "It's an area that's warming very quickly," she said, according to EcoWatch.
The news comes as the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service declared this past January the warmest January on record.
This was also the fourth January in a row in which the Copernicus service recorded a below average sea ice extent in Antarctica. At 4.6 million kilometers squared (approximately 1.8 million square miles), it was around 17 percent below the 1981 to 2010 average.
More about Antarctica, record temperature, Warming, Esperanza base
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