Antarctic: temperature records verified | Environment| All topics from climate change to conservation | DW | 06.03.2017
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Climate Change

Antarctic: temperature records verified

Heat and cold records in the Antarctic have now been officially confirmed by the World Meteorological Organization. What do we gain from the news? Primarily, certainty for assessing climatic changes correctly.

Among others, one of the main functions of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is compiling and interpreting millions of climate, weather, and water data from all parts of the world. Now, the organization has verified the charted temperature records in Antarctica - officially stamped with its seal of approval.

Heat records in the perpetual ice

January 30, 1982 has now been declared as the warmest day on record for the Antarctic region, which refers to everything south of the 60°S latitude parallel. The WMO stated that, on that day, 19.8° Celsius (67.6° Fahrenheit) was recorded. The measurements were conducted at the Signy Research Station on Signy Island.

For the whole Antarctic continent, the warmest day on record is March 24, 2015, with 17.5° Celsius (65.3° Fahrenheit). This temperature was recorded near the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Uncontested cold record

The lowest temperature ever measured in Antarctica - and worldwide - is considered to be -89.2° Celsius (-128.6° Fahrenheit). This value was recorded on July 21, 1983 at the Russian research station Vostok.

"It is very likely that there have been higher temperature extremes within the Antarctic region," the WMO stated. These just have not been recorded.

Nevertheless, for the climatology archives, verified data like this is crucial to document developments. Aside from the highest and lowest temperatures, the WMO has also recorded the largest hailstones and the longest bolts of lightning.

The WMO's Antarctic facts

The Antarctic is approximately 40 times bigger in size than Germany or about twice the size of Australia. And, with its up to 4.8-kilometer-(2.98-mile)-thick sheet of ice, it holds nearly 90 percent of global drinking water resources. If all this were to melt, the global sea level would rise by up to 60 meters.

No other region in the world is warming as fast as the northwestern part of Antarctica, close to South America - almost three degrees within the last 50 years. The glaciers on the west coast have also been shrinking for the past 50 years, but particularly rapidly during the past 12 years.

hf/fs/jf (dpa, Reuters, afp)

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