Researchers at a base in the Antarctic say they have recorded the hottest temperature there since readings began more than 60 years ago.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said Friday the Argentine research base recorded a high of 18.3 C (64.9 F) on Thursday. The agency said that tops a former record of 17.5 C in March 2015.
A WMO official, Randal Cerveny, said Friday the agency still must verify the recording taken at the base but said, “Everything we have seen thus far indicates a likely legitimate record.”
He said the high temperature appears to have been caused by a rapid warming of air coming down a mountain slope.
Researchers at Argentina’s Esperanza base on the northern tip of Antarctica, near South America, have been recording temperatures there since 1961.
The WMO says the Antarctic Peninsula where the base is located is among the fastest warming regions on the globe, with temperatures rising almost 3 degrees Celsius over the past 50 years.
Scientists believe that global warning is causing an increase in the melting of ice sheets around Antarctica, which in turn is causing sea levels to rise.
Researchers at Argentina's Marambio base say temperatures there also spiked Thursday, reaching 14.1 degrees Celsius, the hottest February day since 1971.