The South Pole just had its coldest winter on record, an anomaly in a warming world.
Between April and September, a research station sitting on a high plateau in Antarctica, registered an average temperature of minus 78 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 61 degrees Celsius). That’s the coldest temperature recorded since record keeping began in 1957, and about 4.5 F (2.5 C) lower than the most recent 30-year average. The end of September came close to the world record for lowest temperature in October (-80°C). The current temperatures are still some distance from the coldest ever observed on the continent.In July 1983, Vostok plummeted to minus-129 degrees (minus-89.6 Celsius) and satellites have detected temperatures as low as minus-144 degrees (minus-98 Celsius).
While impressive and unexpected, scientists characterized this record as a mere blip and curiosity as both Antarctica and the planet continue to rapidly warm amid escalating extreme weather. The conditions over Antarctica are in stark contrast to much of the rest of the planet, which notched its fourth-hottest June through August on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Northern Hemisphere registered its second-hottest summer. Scientists stressed that the record cold over the South Pole in no way refutes or lessens the seriousness of global warming. Antarctica is notorious for its wild swings in weather and climate, which can run counter to global trends.
Graphics provided by Scott Duncan