Did Antarctica really have its warmest day on record?

peninsulaAccording to an article published today by United Press International (UPI), Antarctica had its warmest day on record, and they attribute it wholly to global warming. Except the temperatures were measured on bases controlled by Argentina, and may be more indicative of Argentina’s climate, not Antarctica’s.** None of the bases are located inside the Antarctic Circle. UPI got its information from a blog posting at the Weather Underground, a notorious site for alarmist stories about climate change.

The temperature measurements were done at Argentina’s Esperanza Base and Marambio Base on the northern tip of the Trinity Peninsula, both of which are outside the Antarctic Circle and on the same latitude as the tip of South America. The temperature of Esperanza of 63.3¬∞F (17.4¬∞C) base was recorded on March 24, and a second temperature reading was recorded at Argentina’s Marambio base on March 23 7.4¬∞C (63.3¬∞F). See map.

To put this in perspective, it would be the equivalent of taking a temperature measurement in Reykjav√≠k, Iceland, and proclaiming that this measurement is indicative of the temperature of the Arctic region, or worse, Tasiilaq (Ammassalik), Greenland. It’s a ridiculous proclamation and utterly useless. It is well known that West Antarctica is heavily influenced by underground volcanic activity, and hidden beneath its icy exterior is a myriad of active Rift Systems.

The blog post goes on to say that the “all-time warmest temperature yet observed in Antarctica,” and according to the WMO, “was 15.0¬∞C (59.0¬∞F) at Vanda Station on January 5, 1974. Vanda Station is located near 77¬∞S latitude but was occupied for only brief periods, mostly during the Austral summers, between 1967-1995.” Most notably is that Vanda Station is well within the Antarctic Circle and south side of the continent.

According to UPI, the “WMO climatologists have to decide whether Argentina’s two bases qualify geographically-speaking — whether their positioning on the outskirts of the continent qualify the temperatures as more representative of Antarctica or of Argentina.” The WMO will also have to verify if the measuring equipment was working correctly and qualified for temperature measurements.

The other item not mentioned is that the Antarctic Peninsula only accounts for roughly two percent of the entire continent. That would be like measuring the temperature at the tip of Cape Cod and saying that it was New England’s warmest day. Or measuring the temperature in Miami and saying the East Coast had its warmest day.

Satellite data, which began snapping pictures of Earth in 1979, has shown that Antarctica has increased in size by nearly 30 percent due to an increase in new, thicker sea ice, including around the Antarctic Peninsula. It is also the most remote continent in the world, with international treaties preventing it from ever being developed or populated (aside from research stations). Nor are there temperature measuring devices covering the continent. It’s too large, too difficult to traverse, and completely impractical to implement.

Where temperatures are taken, it shows that the mean Antarctic temperature has actually fallen throughout the last 60 years, and in some Antarctic valleys, more damage is being caused by temperature decreases of up to 2°C. Antarctica is also exiting its summer season as the Northern Hemisphere gears up for spring. Though the Great Lakes still mostly frozen one week into spring looks more like Antarctica from space.

So did Antarctica have its warmest day on record? Of course not. Antarctica is a continent, about the size of Australia, and the temperature in Sydney is no more indicative of that continent’s overall condition then the temperatures taken in Argentina. Or if you prefer, the northern-most tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.

**CORRECTED 3/31: Due to a typo, it should have said in the opening paragraph that the bases are controlled by Argentina, and the temperatures measured may be more indicative of Argentina’s climate, and not Antarctica’s.