Eastern Antarctica has recorded exceptionally high temperatures this week, more than 30 degrees Celsius above normal, say experts.
The Concordia research base at Dome C of the Antarctic, which is at an altitude of 3,000 metres (9,800 feet), on Friday registered a record -11.5 degrees Celsius (11.3 Fahrenheit), Etienne Kapikian, a meteorologist from France-Meteo tweeted.
Normally, temperatures fall with the end of the southern summer, but the Dumont d'Urville station on Antarctica registered record temperatures for March with 4.9C (40.82F), at a time of year when normally temperatures are already sub-zero.
Gaetan Heymes of France Meteo described the unseasonably mild weather as a "historic event".
And geoscientist Jonathan Wille wrote on Twitter: "And there it is, Concordia broke its all time record temperature by 1.5°C. "This is when temperatures should be rapidly falling since the summer solstice in December.
"This is a Pacific Northwest 2021 heat wave kind of event," he added. "Never supposed to happen."
The unprecedented temperatures come after the National Snow and Ice Data Center in the United States said Antarctica's sea ice fell below two million square kilometres (772,204 sq miles) in late February for the first time since 1979. According to a Bloomberg report on the findings, this was another sign that the accelerating pace of climate change is hitting some of the coldest regions the hardest.
The findings add to signs that global temperature changes are becoming more extreme. The past eight years were the hottest on record, with 2021 ranking as the sixth-warmest, according to U.S. government data. The poles are suffering especially, with Arctic sea-ice contracting by an average of 13% every decade since 1979, the Bloomberg report explained.
At the South Pole, the latest data provide yet more evidence of “climate breakdown,” with some parts of the region warming faster than anywhere else in the world, Greenpeace said. The knock-on effects include rising sea levels, disruption to wildlife migration patterns and -- as the reflective surface area of ice is reduced -- even quicker warming, the report adds.
(Inputs from AFP and Bloomberg)