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Weekly Weather Event -Week of Feb. 3

February 7, 2020

An Argentinian research station in Antarctica logged the continent’s highest temperature on record today. Sation thermometers at Esperanza Base reported a temperature of 64.9 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 degrees Celsius), almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit (.8 degrees Celsius) higher than the previous continental record. The previous record was recorded in March 2015 at 63.5 degrees Fahrenheit (17.5 degrees C).

Alongside this record-breaking temperature, February’s highest temperature was logged on February 6 at nearby Marambio Base. The base reported a high temperature of 60.4 degrees Fahrenheit (15.8 degrees Celsius). Both temperature readings will likely be verified by the World Meteorological Organization (WHO) to confirm the new records.

While the new temperature record is the warmest temperature recorded for the continent, it does not break the high temperature record for the entire Antarctic region. The Antarctic region is defined as everywhere south of 60 degrees latitude, including ocean waters, adjacent islands, and the Antarctic continent. The record high for the Antarctic region is 64.9 F degrees Fahrenheit (19.8 degrees Celsius) and was measured on Signy Island in January 1982

Antarctica is one of the fastest warming places on the globe. Average temperatures have risen by 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1950, or 3 degrees Celsius in the past 50 years. According to WHO, approximately 87% of the continent’s glaciers have retreated in the past 50 years. Increased melt water is contributing to the collapse of ice shelves along the Antarctica coast. Ice shelves do not contribute to sea level rise, given that they already float in the water, but they play an important role in stabilizing ice sheets on the continent. Unlike ice shelves, the melting of ice sheets does contribute to sea level rise.