WMO recognizes new record high temperature for the Antarctic continent

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The WMO has recognized a new record high temperature for the Antarctic continent, of 18.3°C on February 6, 2020, at the Esperanza station in Argentina. However, it rejected an even higher temperature, of 20.75°C, which was reported on February 9, 2020, at an automated permafrost monitoring station on Seymour Island.

“The Antarctic Peninsula – the northwest tip near to South America – is among the fastest-warming regions of the planet, almost 3°C over the past 50 years. This new temperature record is therefore consistent with the climate change we are observing. WMO is working in partnership with the Antarctic Treaty System to help conserve this pristine continent,” said WMO secretary-general, Professor Petteri Taalas.

A committee for WMO’s Weather and Climate Extremes Archive conducted an extensive review of the weather situation on the Antarctic peninsula at the time of the reported records. It determined that a large high-pressure system over the area created föhn conditions (downslope winds producing significant surface warming), resulting in local warming at both Esperanza Station and Seymour Island. Past evaluations have demonstrated that such meteorological conditions are conducive to producing record temperature scenarios.

The committee also examined the two observations’ instrumental setups. The examination of the data and metadata of the Esperanza station observation, operated by Argentina’s national meteorological service (Servicio Meteorológico Nacional, SMN), revealed no major concerns.

However, a detailed analysis of data and metadata of the Seymour Island permafrost monitoring station operated by a Brazilian polar science research team indicated that an improvised radiation shield led to a demonstrable thermal bias error for the temperature sensor.

The new record will now be added to the WMO’s Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes, which includes the world’s highest and lowest temperatures, rainfall, heaviest hailstone, longest dry period, maximum gust of wind, longest lightning flash and weather-related mortalities.

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Helen has worked for UKi Media & Events for more than a decade. She joined the company as assistant editor on Passenger Terminal World and has since progressed to become editor of five publications, covering everything from aviation, logistics and automotive to meteorology. She has a love for travel and property and has redeveloped three houses in three years. When she’s not editing magazines, she’s running around after her two boys and their partner in crime, Pete the pug.

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