Highest temperatures ever in the Arctic and Antarctic

On 6 February 2020, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recognized a new high temperature record for the Antarctic continent: 18.3°C, which breaks the record from 24 March 2015 with 17.5°C.

The Antarctic Peninsula is among the fastest warming regions of the planet, almost 3°C over the last 50 years. This new temperature record is therefore consistent with the climate change we are observing.

Professor Petteri Taalas
WMO Secretary-General

Melting ice

The WMO discovered that a large high-pressure system over the area created föhn conditions and resulted in local warming. This new record shows once again that climate change requires urgent measures. The Antarctic spans 14 million km2, the annual temperature ranges from -10°C to -60°C. Its immense ice sheet is up to 4.8 km thick and contains 90% of the worlds fresh water. If it would all melt, sea level would raise up to 60 cm, which is expected only in the next centuries. However, amounts of ice leaving the glaciers have doubled the last 30 years.

Another record on the other side of the planet

The highest temperature ever recorded on the most northern side of the planet has been officially confirmed by the WMO on 20 June 2020 in the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk: 38°C. Temperatures in the Arctic are raising at a rate more than twice the global average. This is causing record numbers of „zombie fires“ because of the burning of carbon-rich peat, the thawing of permafrost and the breaking up of Arctic´s thickest ice.

More viruses and the “pizzly” bear

Thawing of permafrost could release radioactive waste and bring back to life some dormant viruses, to accompany the viruses we are already struggling with. Soaring temperatures in the Arctic could lead to the end of the polar bear and the rise of the „pizzly“ bear. Polar bears are breeding with grizzly bears and creating hybrids. These bears could be a sad but necessary compromise given current warming trends.

Records all over the world

The WMO has much to do these times. This summer they recorded 54.5°C in the Death Valley, US, the hottest place of the world. 48.8°C were measured in Syracuse, Italy, summer 2021, the highest recorded temperature in European history. It might be assumed that this records won´t stop in the next years.

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