“In the last month, we’ve seen penguin colonies sharply declining under the impacts of climate change in this supposedly pristine environment.”
Antarctica is among the fastest-warming regions in the planet, with the Antarctic Peninsula, where the Argentine bases are located, warming particularly quickly, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). Average temperatures on the continent have risen almost three degrees over the past 50 years, and during that time glaciers along the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula have retreated.
WMO experts will now investigate whether the warm event recorded by Argentine scientists is a weather phenomenon known as foehn.
That is a common event in Alpine regions that often involves high winds at altitude and the rapid warming of air as it heads down slopes or peaks, driven by significant air pressure differences, the WMO said in a statement.
The WMO will also determine whether the temperature extreme is a new record for the entire Antarctic landmass.
The Signy island in the Antarctic region, which includes everywhere south of 60 degrees latitude, recorded an all-time high temperature of 19.8 degrees in January 1982. The average annual temperature ranges from about -10 degrees on the Antarctic coast to -60 degrees at the highest points of the interior.