UN body says it will take months to verify ‘record’ Antarctica temperatures

Undated handout photo issued by Greenpeace of fog surrounding mountains whilst a Humpback whale breaches the water surface in
Undated handout photo issued by Greenpeace of fog surrounding mountains whilst a Humpback whale breaches the water surface in Hope Bay, Antarctica, as the environmental organisation is documenting the Antarctic's unique wildlife, to strengthen the proposal to create the largest protected area on the planet, an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary.

Record high temperatures reportedly measured in Antarctica will take months to verify, the UN weather agency has said.

A spokesman for the World Meteorological Organisation said the measurements made by researchers from Argentina and Brazil earlier this month have to undergo a formal process to ensure that they meet international standards.

“A formal decision on whether or not this is a record is likely to be several months away,” said Jonathan Fowler, the WMO spokesman.

Scientists at an Argentine research base measured a temperature of 18.3C (nearly 65F) on February 6 on a peninsula that juts out from Antarctica toward the southern tip of South America.

Krill fishing in the Antarctic
An aerial view taken off James Ross Island in the Weddell Sea, in the Antarctic (Daniel Beltra/Greenpeace/PA)

Last week, researchers from Brazil claimed to have measured temperatures above 20C on an island off the peninsula.

Mr Fowler said both measurements would need to be transmitted to Professor Randall Cerveny, a researcher at Arizona State University who examines reported temperature records for WMO.

Prof Cerveny then shares the data with a wider group of scientists who “will carefully evaluate the available evidence (including comparisons to surrounding stations) and debate the merits and problems of the observation”, said Mr Fowler.

The evaluation normally takes six to nine months, after which Prof Cerveny would “formally either accept or reject the potential extreme”, giving official WMO approval to the new record, he said.

Climate change is causing the Arctic and the Antarctic to warm faster than other parts of the planet.

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