- The record will likely be broken again in the “not-so-distant future.”
- “The underlying trend across most of the continent is warming.”
- The temperature at Russian research station Vostok was 50 degrees below zero on Friday.
Antarctica made worldwide news last week when one location – an Argentine research base – set a record high temperature for the continent of 64.9 degrees.
Experts differ on what the new record high may have to do with human-caused climate change.
“This record looks to be a one-time extreme event that doesn’t tell us anything about Antarctic climate change,” David Bromwich, a climate researcher at the Ohio State University, told The Washington Post. Bromwich added, however, that the peninsula has warmed noticeably since the late-1940s.
Another expert noted that “this is a record from only a single station, but it is in the context of what’s happening elsewhere and is more evidence that as the planet warms we get more warm records and fewer cold records,” Steve Rintoul, an oceanographer and Antarctic expert at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, told the Guardian about the new record high.
Eric Steig, a glaciologist studying climate change at the University of Washington, said to The Washington Post that “although there is decade-to-decade variability, the underlying trend across most of the continent is warming.”
He said that the record will likely be broken again in the “not-so-distant future.”
James Renwick, a climate scientist at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, said the new record was likely due to the warming climate and northwest winds hitting the peninsula, according to the Guardian.
“The reason the peninsula is warming faster than other places is a combination of natural variations and warming signals,” Renwick told the Guardian. “It’s a sign of the warming that has been happening there that’s much faster than the global average,” he said.
He also noted that strong winds coming from the northwest and warmer conditions often go hand in hand.
AccuWeather senior meteorologist Jim Andrews said that in addition to regional northwest winds “influencing the peninsula,” extremely localized southwest winds were occurring at the base when the new temperature record was set.
The local southwest winds caused the air to warm and compress as it flowed down from mountains to the south of the base, which sits at sea level, and Andrews explained this is why the temperature was able to climb so high.
And while one spot in Antarctica may have set an all-time record high temperature, let’s not get carried away: The continent is still bitterly cold overall and isn’t about to replace Cancun as a warm-weather destination anytime soon.
While the tip of the Antarctic peninsula hit 64.9 degrees, the temperature at Russian research station Vostok was 50 degrees below zero on Friday, AccuWeather reported.
And while that’s certainly cold, it’s still far from the continent’s record low: Vostok holds the record for lowest temperature ever recorded in Antarctica, which was set on July 21, 1983, when the temperature dropped to 128.56 degrees below zero, AccuWeather said.
The Russian station is located much farther inland than Argentina and is closer to Australia and New Zealand.
That extreme reading also stands as the lowest temperature ever recorded on Earth, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
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