GENEVA/BUENOS AIRES • A research base in the Antarctic has recorded the highest temperature ever for the continent amid rising concern about global warming.
The Esperanza base at the northern tip of the Antarctic peninsula recorded a temperature of 18.3 deg C, the highest on record, said the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) on Friday.
"(This) is not a figure you would normally associate with Antarctica even in the summertime. This beat the former record of 17.5 deg C, which was set back in 2015," said WMO spokesman Clare Nullis.
"The Antarctic peninsula... 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."
The temperature was recorded at the Argentinian base on Thursday.
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 see a global sea level rise of at least 3m over centuries.
A WMO committee will verify whether the temperature logged by Argentina's national meteorological service is a new record for the Antarctic continent. The record in the wider Antarctic region is 19.8 deg C in January 1982.
"The amount of ice lost annually from the Antarctic ice sheet increased at least sixfold between 1979 and 2017," Ms Nullis said, citing images of cracks in glaciers.
"The melting from these glaciers means we are in big trouble when it comes to sea level rise."