The temperature in Antarctica — the world’s coldest continent — reached a balmy 64.9 degrees Fahrenheit Thursday.
The unprecedented heat was recorded by Argentina’s national meteorological service and is being verified by the United Nations World Meteorological Organisation. That group said Friday, based on what they’ve seen, the Argentine National Meteorological Service’s findings “indicates a likely legitimate record.”
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In March 2015, temperatures in Antarctica reached 63.5 degrees. That was the previous record.
According to the WMO, the Antarctic Peninsula, located below the southern tip of Argentina, has warmed nearly 37 degrees over the past 50 years. That makes it one of the planet’s fastest warming areas. Roughly 87% of the glaciers along the peninsula’s west coast have retreated during that span.
Antarctica reportedly saw a 600% loss of ice between 1979 and 2017. Climatologists attribute much of that to warm ocean water melting ice shelves from beneath.
Annual average temperatures in Antarctica are between 50 and minus 140 degrees. If its icy surface were to melt, sea levels would raise nearly 200 feet, according to the WMO. Antarctica’s ice sheet accounts for 90% of the world’s fresh water.
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