(TMU) — An Argentine research base on the northern tip of Antarctica has reached 65°F (18.3°C), according to the U.N. weather agency, meaning that the once-frosty continent was hotter than it was on Friday at noon in sunny Los Angeles, California, and Orlando, Florida, where the famously temperate cities were 63°F.
If confirmed, the temperature would be the warmest ever recorded in history.
According to World Meteorological Organization spokesperson Clare Nullis, the Esperanza base recorded 64.9 degrees Fahrenheit or 18.3 degrees Celsius on Thursday—topping a former all-time record of 63.5°F (17.5°C) in March 2015.
The U.N. agency’s committee has referred to the temperature as “a likely record” but will now examine its weather and climate archives to verify whether the reading does officially amount to a new record.
The Argentine research base Esperanza, on the northern tip of #Antarctic Peninsula, saw a new record temperature of 18.3°C today (old one 17.5°C on 24 March 2015), per @SMN_Argentina.
Details of previous record at https://t.co/19Un83mmHn#ClimateChange pic.twitter.com/ZKvzr765Am
— WMO | OMM (@WMO) February 6, 2020
WMO Weather and Climate Extremes Rapporteur Randal Cerveny said:
“Everything we have seen thus far indicates a likely legitimate record but we will of course begin a formal evaluation of the record once we have full data from [Argentine weather service] SMN and on the meteorological conditions surrounding the event.”
Cerveny added that it could be a result of a “‘foehn’ event” over the area, or a hot wind coming down a slope or mountain.
#Antártida | Nuevo récord de temperaturas 🌡️
Este mediodía la Base #Esperanza registró un nuevo récord histórico (desde 1961) de temperatura, con 18,3°C. Con este valor se supera el récord anterior de 17,5°C del 24 en marzo de 2015. Y no fue el único récord… pic.twitter.com/rhKsPFytCb
— SMN Argentina (@SMN_Argentina) February 6, 2020
James Renwick, a climate scientist at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, told the Guardian:
“To have a new record set that quickly is surprising, but who knows how long that will last? Possibly not that long at all.”
Washington Post reports that Antarctica is one of the globe’s fastest-warming regions, with temperatures rising by 5°F (2.8°C) over the last half century, sending 87 percent of the Antarctic peninsula’s west coast glaciers into a historically unprecedented retreat. The retreat has also “accelerated” over the past 12 years, according to WMO.
The new record has been announced as several climate models have suddenly predicted that the world could warm by a sweltering 9°F (5°C) by 2100, fulfilling a “nightmare scenario” that had previously not been anticipated by scientists.