Antarctica just registered a temperature above 20º C (68ºF) for the first time in recorded history, according to climate scientists.
The recent record-breaking warm temps in Antarctica are raising concerns among climatologists that the world's greatest repository of ice may become far more unstable, far more soon, and set off a cascading series of catastrophic changes that could abruptly change life on Earth.
"We are seeing the warming trend in many of the sites we are monitoring, but we have never seen anything like this," said Carlos Schaefer, who works on Terrantar, a Brazilian government project that monitors the impact of climate change on permafrost and biology at 23 sites in the Antarctic.
From The Guardian:
The 20.75C logged by Brazilian scientists at Seymour Island on 9 February was almost a full degree higher than the previous record of 19.8C, taken on Signy Island in January 1982.
It follows another recent temperature record: on 6 February an Argentinian research station at Esperanza measured 18.3C, which was the highest reading on the continental Antarctic peninsula.
These records will need to be confirmed by the World Meteorological Organization, but they are consistent with a broader trend on the peninsula and nearby islands, which have warmed by almost 3C since the pre-industrial era – one of the fastest rates on the planet.
Scientists, who collect the data from remote monitoring stations every three days, described the new record as "incredible and abnormal".