The United Nations’ World Meteorological Organisation on Wednesday announced that had confirmed the all-time record high temperatures in three zones in Antarctica. The new figures are expected to help understand how the man-made climate change is affecting the region and its weather patterns, the WMO said.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the entire Antarctic region, which includes all land and ice below 60°S latitude, was 19.8°C on January 30, 1982. For the continent, 17.5°C was the maximum temperature ever recorded – on March 24, 2015 – near the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. The Antarctic Plateau, which is the region at or above 8,202 ft, had its highest temperature of -7°C on December 28, 1980.

“The knowledge and verification of such extremes is important in the study of weather patterns, naturally occurring climate variability and human-induced climate change at global and regional scales,” the report said, adding that the records all occurred as a result of an influx of warm air. According to Randall Cerveny, a WMO rapporteur on climate and weather extremes, the study “highlights the need to continually monitor all of the Antarctic region” so climate change can be analysed with the “best possible data”.

The Antarctic Peninsula, which is the northwest tip located close to South America, is among the Earth’s fastest warming regions – it has become nearly 3°C warmer over the last half century, which is three times the global average. Its glaciers have also been retreating at a faster pace in the last 12 years. If Antarctica’s 4.8-km-thick ice sheet, which contains 90% of the world’s fresh water, were to melt, it would raise sea levels by 60 metres.

Credit: World Meteorological Organisation