Antarctica hits new record high temperature of 17.5C

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The record warm temperature for the larger Antarctic region, anywhere south of 60 degrees latitude, was 67.6 degrees Fahrenheit on South Atlantic's Signy Island on January 30, 1982.

Paris - The UN's World Meteorological Organization published the highest temperatures on record in three Antarctic zones on Wednesday, setting a benchmark for studying how climate change is affecting this crucial region.

"Verification of maximum and minimum temperatures help us to build up a picture of the weather and climate in one of Earth's final frontiers", Michael Sparrow, a polar expert with the WMO-affiliated World Climate Research Programme, said in a statement. Yesterday, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recognized that reading as the highest-ever temperature on the Antarctic continent.

The extreme of 17.5C (63.5F) was reached on 24 March 2015 at the Argentine Research Base Esperanza at the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, according to a report in the American Geophysical Union's publication Eos.

Usually, Antarctica is cold, windy and dry, the WMO said. That's disconcerting, given that the Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest-warming regions of the planet, having warmed by nearly 5.4 degrees F over the past 50 years, the WMO said. Its enormous ice sheet is about 4.8 km (3 miles) thick and contains 90 percent of the world's fresh water, enough to raise sea levels by around 60 meters (200 feet) if it were all to melt.

In addition, about 87 percent of glaciers along the Antarctic Peninsula's west coast have retreated over the past 50 years, especially in the past 12 years, the WMO added.

Meltwater is the result of high temperatures that can melt the surface of the ice and snow, Greenbaum said. The temperatures range from the high 60s (in Fahrenheit) to the high teens, depending on the location they were recorded in Antarctica. Meltwater is fairly alarming, he said, because it can lead to the rapid retreat of coastal ice, as well as sea-level rise. The more we learn about how they vary around the world, the better we can understand them even here in the United States.

Professor Randy Cerveny of Arizona State University, who also works for the WMO, responded to news of the record high, reports Forbes.

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