Antarctic records hottest temperature ever

A research base in the Antarctic has recorded the hottest temperature ever for the continent amid global alarm over the climate change crisis.

A spokeswoman for the World Meteorological Organization said Friday that the Esperanza base on the northern tip of the Antarctic peninsula logged a record temperature of 18.3 degrees Celsius - or 64.94 degrees Fahrenheit...

(SOUNDBITE) (English) WORLD METEOROLOGICAL ORGANIZATION (WMO) SPOKESWOMAN, CLARE NULLIS, SAYING:

"...which is not a figure you would normally associate with Antarctica, even in the summertime."

That temperature, recorded Thursday by Argentina's meteorological base in the region, beat the former record of 17.5 degrees Celsius set in 2015.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) WORLD METEOROLOGICAL ORGANIZATION (WMO) SPOKESWOMAN, CLARE NULLIS, SAYING:

"What we know is of great concern. The Antarctic peninsula, where we saw this temperature record yesterday. It is among the fastest warming regions of the planet. We hear a lot about the Arctic, but this particular part of the Antarctic peninsula is warming very quickly."

Scientists believe global warming has caused so much melting at the south pole that the giant ice sheet is now on course to disintegrate.

This would cause an eventual global sea level rise of at least three meters - or ten feet - over centuries.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) WORLD METEOROLOGICAL ORGANIZATION (WMO) SPOKESWOMAN, CLARE NULLIS, SAYING:

"The amount of ice lost annually from the Antarctic ice sheet increased at least six-fold between 1979 and 2017. Another fact -- some 87 percent of glaciers along the west coast of the Antarctic peninsula have retreated in the last 50 years, with most of the shrink and accelerated retreat in the past 12 years. There's two big glaciers, there is the Pine Island glacier and the Thwaites glacier. The melting from these glaciers, you know, means we are in big trouble when it comes to sea level rise."

The WMO will on its own verify the record temperature logged by Argentina's weather base.

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