Bengaluru: The Antarctic region has registered its highest-ever temperature on record as mercury soared over 20 degrees Celsius earlier this week.
On 9 February, Brazilian scientists at Seymour Island in the Antarctic peninsula had logged the record-high temperature of 20.75 degrees Celsius.
This reading follows another temperature record — on 6 February, an Argentinian research station at Esperanza had measured 18.3 degrees Celsius, which was the highest reading on mainland Antarctica.
Another Argentinian base located on Seymour Island, called Marambio, which is 100 km from Esperanza, had also recorded a high for February at 14.1 degrees Celsius the same day (6 February).
The new temperature also breaks the highest temperature of 19.8 degrees Celsius that was recorded at Signy Island in the Antarctic region in January 1982.
While the World Meteorologial Organisation (WMO), a United Nations agency, is yet to confirm the new temperature reading, scientists fear that more such record-high temperatures are likely to occur frequently due to rapid global heating.
Antarctica has seen temperatures increase by nearly 3 degrees Celsius over the last 50 years.
‘Incredible and abnormal’ temperature
Scientists, who collect weather data from remote monitoring stations every three days, called the new record “incredible and abnormal“.
The Antarctic region stores over 70 per cent of the world’s freshwater. But it has been warming five times faster than the rest of the world.
While the continent was shedding ice at a rate of 40 billion tons per year from 1979 through 1990, since 2009 the quantity has risen to 250 billion tons per year — six times faster than 40 years ago.
Ice melt from Antarctica is also expected to raise sea levels by over a metre by 2100 and threaten major coastal cities if greenhouse gas emissions go unchecked.
With the world witnessing more and more climate tipping points, scientists have declared a global environmental emergency. They also called for urgent action to curtail greenhouse emissions to contain the rise of global temperatures within 1.5 degrees Celsius.