The records tumble: the thermometer at the Argentine research station Esperanza measured 18.3 degrees Celsius on February 6, 2020 on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, according to the South American state’s meteorological service. The previous high on the mainland was 17.5 degrees Celsius, set in March 2015. Antarctic islands, on the other hand, have always been a bit warmer, but here too there is a new record: A weather station on Seymour Island, also at the northern tip of the peninsula , recorded 20.75 degrees Celsius – for the first time in the history of human weather observations on the southern continent, the threshold of 20 degrees Celsius was exceeded. The Brazilian scientist Carlos Schaefer reported to the AFP. Up until this February, the maximum value on the Antarctic islands was 19.8 degrees Celsius, measured in 1982. Both values have yet to be confirmed by the World Meteorological Organization.
Even if these individual temperature values do not provide evidence of climate change, they do confirm the trend: global warming means that the Antarctic Peninsula is heating up faster than average in a global comparison. Over the past 60 years, the average temperature here has increased by three degrees Celsius. Accordingly, the consequences are particularly drastic here: the ice shelves Larsen A and Larsen B have already disintegrated, Larsen C is showing signs of disintegration and could follow in the near future. At the same time, the region is becoming greener: plant growth has in some cases quadrupled or quintupled. Mosses and higher plants spread.