Antarctica Experiences Its Highest Recorded Temperature

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Rising nearly three degrees Celsius in the past 50 years, Antarctica is one of the fastest-warming regions on Earth. A new record high was just recorded, beating the previous record set barely five years ago. The question is not whether the planet is warming, it's whether we can respond in time to the warnings it sends. Thus far it seems unlikely.

Every region of the world is affected by climate change, including the most uninhabited place on Earth.

Antarctica recently experienced the highest recorded temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit on the continent. An Argentian research station recorded the temperature at the Esperanza base, the part of Antarctica claimed by Argentina. A previously high record of 63.5 F was recorded in 2015. Another Argentian base on Antarctica called Marambio experienced the highest recorded temperature there at 57.4 F.

Antarctica is one of the fastest-warming regions in the world, having warmed nearly three degrees Celsius over the past 50 years according to the World Meteorological Organization. Around 87 percent of glaciers along the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula have retreated in the past 50 years with most of them exhibiting an accelerated retreat in the past 12 years. A 2012 study found that Antarctica’s current warming rate is nearly unprecedented in the past 2000 years.

James Renwick, a climate scientist at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, told The Guardian that the “reading is impressive as it’s only five years since the previous record was set and this is almost one-degree centigrade higher.” He added that “it’s a sign of the warming that has been happening there that’s much faster than the global average.”

The environmental organization Greenpeace has an expedition in Antarctica. Frida Bengtsson, who leads the expedition, said, “In the last month, we’ve seen penguin colonies sharply declining under the impacts of climate change in this supposedly pristine environment.”

Climate change affects other regions

Other regions are currently being impacted by climate change. January 2020 was the fifth warmest January on record in the U.S. All 48 lower states experienced above and much-above average temperatures in January. No state in the lower 48 experienced average or below-average temperatures in January. The ice coverage in the Great Lakes region was 35 percent of the average for January. Last month was also the third wettest January in 126 years in the lower 48 states.

The European Environment Agency (EEA) recently released maps showing how climate change could affect parts of Europe. The Iberian Peninsula is projected to experience the largest increase in droughts and will be at risk for desertification. In 2014 and 2015 Sweden experienced forest fire and forest fires are projected to increase in most parts of Europe.

While some parts of Europe are likely to experience less rain and higher temperatures, the Atlantic Coast of Europe is experiencing sea-level rise and coastal flooding. Most parts of northern and eastern Europe have already experienced more heavy rain and heavy rain is projected to increase by over 35 percent in Eastern Europe. The Mediterranean coasts are currently at the highest risk of compound flooding. Compound flooding caused catastrophic floods in Venice last year, flooding 85 percent of the city. The frequency of flooding in Venice will increase by over 100 without improved coastal protection if emissions are high.

The time to reduce emissions is now

The time to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is now. As Bengtsson said, “To protect the Antarctic and other unique ecosystems like it, we must stop burning fossil fuels ” The U.S. is the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions in the world. The current president denies the occurrence of climate change. Electing a president that not only believes climate change is occurring but has a plan to reduce emissions by transitioning away from foss is a key part of avoiding the worst impacts of the greatest crisis in our day.


Climate & Earth Sciences