Feb 7, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Antarctica hits its warmest temperature in recorded history

The sun shines over China's Kunlun Station in Antarctica in 2019. Photo: Liu Shiping/Xinhua via Getty Images

Argentina's Esperanza Base on Antarctica's Trinity Peninsula reached 65°F (18.3°C) on Thursday, notching the continent's warmest temperature in recorded history, per the World Meteorological Organization.

Why it matters: Antarctica is one of the globe's fastest-warming regions with temperatures rising 5°F (2.8°C) in the past 50 years, spurring the retreat of 87% of the glaciers along the Antarctic peninsula's west coast, the Washington Post reports.

  • The continent's last record-breaking temperature of 63.5°F (17.5°C) was recorded in the same location — near the peninsula's northernmost tip — on March 24, 2015.

Worth noting: The WMO referred to the temperature reading as "a likely record" as it still has to be officially reviewed and certified.

Go deeper: Climate models suddenly predict much faster warming, stumping scientists

Go deeper

Antarctica hits 69 degrees days after record-breaking heat

Aerial view of Glaciers from the Chilean Air Force Helicopter during flight to Brazilian Station Comandante Ferraz in December 2019. Photo: Alessandro Dahan/Getty Images

A weather station in Antarctica recorded a temperature of 69.3°F on February 9 — just days after the world's coldest continent hit a record-breaking 65°F, The Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: The United Nation's World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has yet to confirm this is the hottest recorded temperature. It's nonetheless an important finding that confirms a heatwave hit the most northern part of Antarctica, the Post writes.

Heat wave melts 20% of snow cover from Antarctic island in days

The effects of February's record heat wave on Eagle Island in Antarctica. Photo: NASA

Antarctica's Eagle Island now has a side that's almost ice-free following this month's searing heat wave in the region, images released by NASA show.

Why it matters: "The warm spell caused widespread melting on nearby glaciers," NASA said in its report. It's the third major melt event of the 2019–2020 Southern Hemisphere summer, following warm spells in January and last November, according to the United Nation's World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Climate models suddenly predict much faster warming, stumping scientists

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Several climate models from top institutions around the globe are suddenly predicting the world will warm by 5°C (9°F) by 2100, a possible "nightmare scenario," and scientists aren't sure why, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: The 2015 Paris climate agreement set an agreed threshold to attempt to limit warming below 1.5°C (2.7°F). Should these newest projections turn out to be accurate, the Paris agreement's goals would already be well out of reach.