Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

An aircraft en route from Antarctica's Esperanza Base to Marambio Base. (Photo: Sebazac/flickr/cc)

Scientists Record Warmest Day Ever in Antarctica

The unprecedented highs occurred nearly three months past the usual warmest time of the year in the Antarctic Peninsula

Two Antarctic weather stations recorded unprecedentedly high temperatures in March—offering grim evidence of accelerating climate change.

A potential Antarctica record high of 63.5 degrees Fahrenheit was recorded on March 24 at the Esperanza Base, just south of the southern tip of Argentina—a temperature exceeding any figure yet observed on the Antarctic landmass or Peninsula, according to the Weather Underground blog. The previous record high at the base, of 62.7 degrees Fahrenheit, was recorded in 1961.

The Esperanza reading came one day after a nearby weather station, at Marambio Base, saw a record high of its own: 63.3 degrees Fahrenheit.

"One surprising aspect of the temperatures measured recently at Esperanza and Marambio are that they occurred in autumn, nearly three months past the usual warmest time of the year in the Antarctic Peninsula," notes Weather Underground. 

The Guardian further explains:

[W]hether the recent readings represent records for Antarctica depends on the judgment of the World Meteorological Organization, the keeper of official global records for extreme temperatures, rainfall and hailstorms, dry spells and wind gusts. The WMO has recorded extreme temperatures in Antarctica but not settled the question of all-time records for the continent, according to Christopher Burt of Weather Underground.

One complicating factor is debate about what constitutes "Antarctica". Both Esperanza and Marambio lie outside the Antarctic circle, though they are attached to the mainland by the frozen archipelago that is the Antarctic peninsula.

A separate study published in the journal Science at the end of March found that some ice shelves in the western part of the continent have lost up to 18 percent of their thickness in less than two decades.

The floating ice shelves surrounding the Antarctic Ice Sheet act as a "buttress to the 'grounded' ice, helping slow the flow of the ice sheet's glaciers into the ocean," Science journalist Carolyn Gramling explained.

She continued: "But warming ocean waters have been eating away at the underside of these ice shelves, thinning them in many places and reducing their ability to buttress the ice. This effect is particularly apparent in parts of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), long regarded as the more vulnerable part of the continent to climate change. Two regions of the WAIS, the Amundsen and Bellingshausen seas, have experienced especially dramatic losses of ice over the last couple of decades."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We need your help.

Support progressive journalism.

Common Dreams is not your average news site. We don't survive on clicks or advertising dollars. We rely entirely on your support. And without it, our independent progressive journalism simply wouldn’t exist. Every gift of every amount matters.

Join the fight and support our common dreams today.

Global Hopes in Doubt After G7 Fails to Meet Climate Finance Pledges for Poor Nations

"I'd have really hoped for a clearer signal on how and when we will be able to see the commitment to mobilize the $100 billion fulfilled."

Andrea Germanos, staff writer ·


Schumer Backs Sanders' Proposal to Include Dental, Hearing, and Vision Care in Medicare

"With the current Medicare platform, those three things are just left out, like it's no big deal," said the Democratic leader. "But it is a big deal and we should fix it."

Julia Conley, staff writer ·


On Prime Day, Groups Demand Federal Ban on Amazon's 'Punitive' Worker Surveillance

"Amazon's workplace surveillance system is brutal every day, and even worse on Prime Day."

Jake Johnson, staff writer ·


Sanders Says Congress Must Combat GOP Attacks on Voting Rights in 'Any and Every Way'

"What Republican legislatures and governors are doing in the most disgraceful way imaginable is to try to deny people of color, young people, poor people the right to vote."

Jake Johnson, staff writer ·


Advocates Cheer VA Move to Offer Trans Vets Gender Confirmation Surgery

"Every veteran deserves to have access to the health care that they need, and the VA is working to make sure that includes transgender veterans as well."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·