The heat in Antarctica is continuing to climb with recent recordings showing that the icy continent has reached a shocking temperature of 69.35°F (20.75°C)—the highest temperature ever recorded.
The unprecedented hot temperature was logged by Brazilian researchers at Seymour Island on February 9 and soars past the previous record of 67.64°F (19.8°C), which had been recorded on Signy Island in January 1982.
The grim record comes after another recent record temperature was reached last Thursday when an Argentine research station on the northern tip of the continent found that temperatures had reached 65°F (18.3°C), the hottest-ever temperature reading on the continental Antarctic Peninsula.
While the record still needs to be checked for accuracy by the World Meteorological Organization, the “incredible and abnormal” readings are consistent with what researchers see as an increasingly dangerous trend sweeping the continent.
Temperatures in Antarctica typically range from 14°F (-10°C) on the coast to -76°F (-60°C) inland. However, the Antarctic Peninsula which lies near South America has become one of the fastest-warming regions on the planet.
Over the past 50 years, recorded temperatures on the peninsula and nearby islands have warmed by approximately 5.4°F (3°C)—a blisteringly fast rate of increase in a region that has been covered in ice since time immemorial.
Carlos Schaefer, who works for Brazilian climate monitor Terrantar, told the Guardian:
“We are seeing the warming trend in many of the sites we are monitoring, but we have never seen anything like this.”
Over the past 20 years, temperatures on the peninsula have been increasingly erratic—with a brief period of cooling in the first decade of the century being followed by a period of rapid warming.
Much of this has to do with shifts in ocean currents and El Niño events, the Brazilian researchers say. Schaefer added:
“We have climatic changes in the atmosphere, which is closely related to changes in permafrost and the ocean. The whole thing is very interrelated.”
The latest temperature readings come as scientists reported that an iceberg twice the size of Washington D.C. has broken off from the Pine Island glacier in Antarctica.
In a statement, the European Space Agency wrote:
“The Pine Island glacier recently spawned an iceberg over (115 square miles) that very quickly shattered into pieces.”
Antarctica stores roughly 70 percent of the world’s fresh water in the form of snow and ice. Were it all to melt, sea levels could rise by 50 to 60 meters, or roughly 165 to 195 feet. While such a melt would take multiple generations, U.N. scientists predict an ocean rise of anywhere between 30 cm to 110 cm.