Here in New York City, it was a beautiful spring day with temperatures hitting 18 degrees Celsius. Life was good, and it almost made you forget all the troubles the world faces at the moment. Then, you find out that it was basically the same frickin' temperature in Antarctica this time last year and the planet is screwed.
If your life has felt like a hot mess this year, you're not alone. Same goes for the Arctic, which month after month has seen its ice cover contract to new lows. By late September, Arctic sea ice may reach its lowest extent since satellite record-keeping began.
On March 24th, 2015, an Argentine research base experienced temperatures of 63.5°F according to an announcement from the U.N. weather agency that was circulated by Reuters today. It was the highest temperature ever recorded for the Antarctic continent, defined by the World Meteorological Organisation as "the main continental landmass and adjoining islands."
Spring has arrived early for much of the United States this year, and that is problematic. Disease carriers like mosquitoes get a head start, crops can be effected by the sudden return of frost, allergy sufferers get hit hard, and scientist's anxieties are jumping off the charts.
But none of those problems compare to the potential troubles that could come if climate change ends up causing Antarctica to melt. In the worst case scenario, sea levels would rise by 60.96m and pretty much all previous problems on Earth would seem trivial.
In slightly comforting news, a higher record temperature was set in 1982 for the whole Antarctic region, which is considered anywhere south of 60 degrees latitude. On January 30th that year, Signy Island in the South Atlantic experienced a very refreshing 67.6°F day. So, it's not like this is unprecedented but all trends indicate that things will just keep heating up.