Antarctica has just recorded its hottest temperature on Feb. 6, 2020.
0.8°C higher than previous 2015 record
Even as all eyes are fixed on the novel coronavirus outbreak spreading across the globe, the world’s southernmost continent saw temperatures peak for the first time ever at 18.3°C.
The figure was recorded by Argentina research base Esperanza in the Antarctic Peninsula, one of the fastest warming places on the planet.
Verified by the UN World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), the recording on Thursday was 0.8°C higher than the previous highest temperature of 17.5C in March 2015, reported BBC.
This is unprecedented.
Average annual temperatures in Antarctica typically range between -10°C and -60°C, or between 10°C and -40°C during summertime.
However, the Antarctic Peninsula has been steadily warming the past 50 years, and the WMO revealed that around 87 per cent of glaciers along the peninsula’s west coast have retreated.
Cracks have also been “growing rapidly” in the past few days, according to satellite imagery, reported The Washington Post.
Scientists have said, though, that the record-breaking temperatures do not come as a surprise.
Eric Steig, a glaciologist at the University of Washington said there was variability across decades, but the “underlying trend across most of the continent is warming”.
“I think this is the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. This is the foreshadowing of what is to come. It’s exactly in line of what we’ve been seeing for decades,” said Maureen Raymo, research professor in the department of earth and environmental sciences at Columbia University.
While it might seem like a distant issue, melting ice could pose huge threats for the globe.
Antarctica contains nearly 90 per cent of the world’s ice.
If all of it were to melt, sea levels would rise by 73m.
As of now, sea levels are predicted to rise by 1m in a hundred years.
Already, some islands are being inundated.
Indonesia lost two uninhabited islands to the sea in January 2020, and four more with elevations of less than 4m above sea level are on the brink of vanishing.
Top photo from Pixabay