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Worrying new Antarctic record high temperature confirmed

The climate crisis is reaching all corners of the globe.

nasantarctica

NASA's Operation IceBridge snapped this view of Mt. Balfour in Antarctica in 2016.

NASA/Joe MacGregor

A high temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 degrees Celsius) may sound like a mild day for most of the world. For the continent of Antarctica, it's a record high. 

On February 6, 2020, Argentina's national meteorological service known as SMN recorded a possible record at the Esperanza research base in Northern Antarctica. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) investigated the reading and finally confirmed it last week.

"Verification of this maximum temperature record is important because it helps us to build up a picture of the weather and climate in one of Earth's final frontiers," WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas said in a statement

The Antarctic Peninsula, which extends toward South America, is one of the fastest warming regions of the planet, Taalas noted.

That temperature topped the previous record of 63.5 degrees F set in 2015. Although the new record was set early last year,  verification took awhile. The WMO examined the weather patterns at the time, as well as the equipment used to take the measurement. 

Scientists link an increase in extreme weather and new high temperatures to the planet's climate crisis brought on by human activity. This year has already seen extreme heat waves in the northern hemisphere and a busy start to the Atlantic hurricane season.

"This new record shows once again that climate change requires urgent measures," said Celeste Saulo, director of Argentina's SMN and first vice president of WMO. "It is essential to continue strengthening the observing, forecasting and early warning systems to respond to the extreme events that take place more and more often due to global warming."