Scientists in Antarctica have registered a new record temperature of 20.75 degrees Celsius (69.35 Fahrenheit), breaking the 20-degree barrier on the continent for the first time, a researcher said on Thursday.
"We had never seen such a high temperature in the Antarctic," Brazilian scientist Carlos Schaefer told AFP.
He warned that the measurement taken on February 9 at a monitoring station on an island off the northern tip of the continent "has no relevance to climate change" because it is a one-time temperature and is not part of a long-term data set.
The news that the icy continent is now recording temperatures in the relatively mild 20s is likely to further fuel concerns about global warming.
The measurement was carried out on Seymour Island, part of a chain off the peninsula that curves from the northern tip of Antarctica.
The Argentine Marambio research base is located on the island.
Schaefer, a soil scientist, said the reading was part of a 20-year-old research project on the effects of climate change on the region's permafrost.
The previous high was in the 19s, he said.
"We cannot use this to anticipate future climate change. It is a data point," he said.
"It's just a signal that something else is happening in this area."
Still, he added, temperatures had never been so high in Antarctica.
Accelerating melting of glaciers, and especially ice sheets in Antarctica, is contributing to rising sea levels and threatening the coastal megacities and small island states.
The news came a week after the Argentine National Weather Service recorded the hottest day in Argentina’s Antarctica: 18.3 degrees Celsius at noon at Esperanza base near the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.
The previous record on March 24, 2015 was 17.5 degrees. It has been recording Antarctic temperatures since 1961.
The past decade was the hottest in existence, the United Nations said last month, and 2019 was the second hottest year ever after 2016.
And 2020 should continue the trend: The last month was the hottest January ever.
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