Record high temperatures of 20C recorded in Antarctic region

Climate change scientists are concerned about the impact on warming oceans.
Climate change scientists are concerned about the impact on warming oceans. Photo credit: Getty Images

Scientists in Antarctica recorded the region's highest ever temperature on Sunday, sparking concerns climate change is accelerating.

Brazilian researchers were working at Seymour Island in the section of the Antarctic region closest to South America when they recorded a temperature of 20.75C.

The new record is almost a full degree higher than the previous record of 19.8C which was set in January 1982 at nearby Signy Island.

While it is yet to be confirmed by the World Meteorologist Organisation, the temperature is consistent with the current climate in the area and expected to be accurate.

It follows a record temperature for the Antarctic continent of 18.3C earlier in February which was taken at the northern tip of the continent's peninsula. 

Antarctic scientist for the Brazilian government Carlos Schaefer told The Guardian while temperatures in the area had been cool in the first decade of this century, they have risen significantly since then.

"We are seeing the warming trend in many of the sites we are monitoring, but we have never seen anything like this," he said.

Schaefer's research looks into the impact of climate change from 23 Antarctic sites including the South Shetland Islands and the James Ross archipelago.

"It is important to have sentinel areas like the South Shetlands and the Antarctic peninsula because they can anticipate the developments that will happen in the future, the near future," he said.

The Guardian reports there are growing concerns about western Antarctica where the ocean is warming as opposed to the eastern and central areas of the continent where temperatures remain stable. 

While melting on the continent occurs every summer, scientists say more concerningly, the waters are now heating up in winter and the sea level is beginning to rise quicker.

The Antarctic region is estimated to store 70 percent of the world's fresh water and rising temperatures could melt the ice, resulting in sea levels rising 50 to 60 metres.