Antarctica appears to have witnessed its hottest day ever by hitting 63.5 F for the first time, on Tuesday. It was Esperanza base, situated at the northernmost tip of the Antarctica Peninsula, where the temperature was recorded. On Monday, the icy continent set a new record high of 63.3 degrees Fahrenheit but on Tuesday the record was smashed almost immediately with a reading of 63.5 degrees. Prior to this, Antarctica saw its warmest day on April 24, 1961 when the temperature reached 62.8 degrees.
According to the British Antarctic Study, during the Antarctica summer, from December to February, the icy continent remains freezing. However, the Northern Peninsula, where the record breaking temperatures have been recorded, is warmer than the rest of the continent for being located just north of the Antarctic Circle. Although it is located outside of the Antarctic Circle, during most of the summer, the temperatures rarely go beyond 35.6 degrees Fahrenheit. This implies that the recently recorded temperature was substantially higher than normal.
The World Meteorological Organization is busy investigating whether or not the official record was broken because the Northern-most section of the Antarctica Peninsula is disputed territory, with Argentina claiming a portion of the area. Thus it is yet to be determined that the reading was indeed in Antarctica or if the area would be considered a part of Argentina.
Some opine that the rising temperatures in Antarctica owe to global warming and the outermost portions of ice along the coast are melting. Researchers have also revealed that in the past two decades the ice shelves have thinned by 18 percent and the shrinkage is linked to rising sea levels. Some experts warn that if something is not done, half of the entire ice shelves volume could be lost within the next 200 years.
One of the researchers said “The ice shelf shrinkage is indirectly linked to rising sea levels, and current volume reduction rates have scientists projecting that half the volume of ice shelves in western Antarctica may be lost in 200 years.” However, there are disagreements regarding these theories as some believe that the fluctuation is a normal part of the Earth’s cycling process. Some also believe that the ice levels are increasing.