A weather research station on Seymour Island in the Antarctic Peninsula registered a temperature of 69.3 degrees (20.75 Celsius) on Feb. 9, according to Márcio Rocha Francelino, a professor at the Federal University of Vicosa in Brazil.
The nearly 70-degree temperature is significantly higher than the
65-degree reading taken Feb. 6 at the Esperanza Base along Antarctica’s Trinity Peninsula. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is reviewing that reading to see whether it qualifies as the continent’s
hottest temperature on record.
The new data, which was reviewed by The Washington Post, came from a research station that has been in place for 12 years, used mainly for monitoring the layer of permanently frozen soil known as permafrost. Francelino said the temperature sensor is located in a flat and open area, without obstacles.
Randall Cerveny, a meteorologist at Arizona State University who verifies
extremes for the WMO, previously called the Esperanza reading a
“likely record.” On Thursday, he said the organization is looking into the new
report, too, but urged caution about the higher reading.
He said many questions will have to be answered before the nearly 70-degree
reading is considered the hottest temperature yet recorded on the planet’s coldest continent.
“We will want to look very critically at the station’s metadata (how long was
it in place, how good has its observations been, what type of instruments
were used, when were they last calibrated, etc.),” he said in an email.
“All of those things are critical to determining the validity of the observation.”
Computer model forecasts had suggested large parts of the Antarctic
peninsula would be between 20 and 40 degrees above normal
between Feb. 7 and Feb. 9, as an unusually strong high-pressure
zone was in the vicinity.But the average temperature in the first days
of February at the Seymour Island research station was a more