Czech research team measures record high temperature in the Antarctic

Scientists from Brno’s Masaryk University, back from James Ross Island, have revealed their automated weather station registered a record temperature of 17.8 degrees Celsius in the Antarctic last March. While the findings still have to be officially confirmed, the researchers already say it is further evidence of the impact of global warming.

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK The reading of 17.8 degrees Celsius was taken last March 14 by an automated weather station operated by Masaryk University, the results of which, collected by members of a six member research team at Ross Island, were made public this week. Once confirmed, the reading represents a record high for the Antarctic – evidence of global warming’s impact on the “last continent”. Other monitoring stations in the area last March also registered high readings, the closest being 17.5 degrees Celsius at another locality overseen by scientists from Argentina. What’s next regarding the Czech reading?

That was a question Czech Radio put to research team member and climatologist Kamil Láska.

“Our digital thermometers will now undergo checks in a certified laboratory to ensure they were all operating properly. As they are annually tested, we consider this largely a formality. But for the reading to be officially recognized the lab has to double-check. Once official, we plan to publish an article explaining the reasons for the rise in temperature.”

Asked about the factors, climatologist Kamil Láska discussed at least one reason why the air temperature last March 14 was so high:

“We already know that strong westerly air currents coming down from the mountains led to the rise in air temperature. The phenomenon is very similar to the foehn – a dry, warm, down-slope wind that occurs in the Alps. In this case, however, the intensity and effect were more pronounced.”

Czech base on James Ross Island, photo: Kamil LáskaCzech base on James Ross Island, photo: Kamil Láska Experts from Masaryk University take part in work at the Czech polar base on James Ross Island in part of the summer season, making use of a number automatic temperature measuring stations in the base's surroundings. They have focused research on climate change for several years now. During the latest expedition, they installed new devices to monitor changes in the permafrost, that is, the permanently frozen subsoil.

Along with the record reading, the Czech team also announced the discovery of an unknown bacteria species they named Pseudomonas gregormendeli, after Johann Gregor Mendel, the 19th-century founder of modern genetics. Details of that discovery will be published in a journal entitled Current Microbiology, the researchers confirmed.