World Meteorological Organization verifies highest temperatures for Antarctic region

ASU climate expert, WMO rapporteur talks about importance of such verification


March 1, 2017

The World Meteorological Organization announced Wednesday new verified, record high temperatures in Antarctica, an area once described as “the last place on Earth.” The temperatures range from the high 60s (in Fahrenheit) to the high teens, depending on the location they were recorded in Antarctica. 

Knowledge and verification of such extremes are important in the study of weather patterns, naturally occurring climate variability and human-induced change at global and regional scales, said Randy Cerveny, an Arizona State University professor of geographical science and urban planning and the Rapporteur of Climate and Weather Extremes for the WMO. Randy Cerveny, Arizona State University professor of geographical science and urban planning and the Rapporteur of Climate and Weather Extremes for the WMO Download Full Image

“The temperatures we announced today are the absolute limit to what we have measured in Antarctica,” Cerveny said. “Comparing them to other places around the world and seeing how other places have changed in relation to Antarctica gives us a much better understanding of how climate interacts, and how changes in one part of the world can impact other places.” 

Because Antarctica is so vast (it is roughly the size of the United States) and varied the WMO committee of experts, convened by Cerveny, provided three temperature measurements for the Antarctic.

The highest temperature for the “Antarctic region” (defined by the WMO and the United Nations as all land and ice south of 60-deg S) of 19.8 C (67.6 F), which was observed on Jan. 30, 1982, at Signy Research Station, Borge Bay on Signy Island.

The highest temperature for the Antarctic Continent, defined as the main continental landmass and adjoining islands, is the temperature extreme of 17.5 C (63.5 F) recorded on Mar. 24, 2015 at the Argentine Research Base Esperanza located near the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.

The highest temperature for the Antarctic Plateau (at or above 2,500 meters, or 8,200 feet) was -7 C (19.4 F) made on Dec. 28, 1980, at an automatic weather station site D-80 located inland of the Adelie Coast.

The Antarctic is cold, windy and dry. The average annual temperature ranges from -10 C on its coasts to -60 C (14 F to -76 F) at the highest points in the interior. Its immense ice sheet is about 4.8 km (3 miles) thick and contains 90 percent of the world’s fresh water, enough to raise sea levels by around 60 meters (200 feet) if it were all to melt.

 

Cerveny said that observing the extremes of what the Polar Regions are experiencing can provide a better picture of the planet’s interlinked weather system.

“The polar regions of our planet have been termed the ‘canary’ in our global environment,” Cerveny said. “Because of their sensitivity to climate changes, sometimes the first influences of changes in our global environment can be seen in the north and south polar regions. Knowledge of the weather extremes in these locations therefore becomes particularly important to the entire world. The more we know of this critically important area to our environment, the more we can understand how all of our global environments are interlinked.” 

Cerveny said an additional benefit is understanding how those extremes were achieved.

“In the case of the Antarctic extremes, two of them were the result of what are called ‘foehn’ winds — what we call Chinook winds — very warm downslope winds that can very rapidly heat up a place. These winds are found even here in the United States, particularly along the front range of the Rockies. The more we learn about how they vary around the world, the better we can understand them even here in the United States.

Full details of the Antarctic high temperatures and their assessment are given in the on-line issue of Eos Earth and Space Science News of the American Geophysical Union, published on March 1, 2017.

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March 1, 2017

Center for Indian Education finds hardships and opportunities can be offset by holistic and culturally responsive mentoring

Arizona State University has hit upon a new solution to help Native American men and boys overcome the host of obstacles that block the path to socioeconomic success for so many: Get outside the classroom to encourage education.

The answer comes from a recent ASU study funded by RISE for Men and Boys of ColorAn advocacy group associated with the University of Pennsylvania. that found rampant generational hardships and lack of opportunity could potentially be offset by holistic and culturally responsive mentoring in all areas of life.

The study prepared by the Center for Indian Education could encourage the creation or expansion of the types of mentoring programs that ASU has implemented for years.

"Mentorship is important because it grounds both mentor and mentee, and makes them matter to one another," said Bryan McKinley Jones BrayboyBrayboy is also Borderlands Professor of Indigenous Education and Justice in the School of Social Transformation, associate director of the School of Social Transformation and affiliate faculty with the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, American Indian Studies and the Department of English., director of the Center for Indian Education and co-lead on the study. "This ties the present to the future. Part of our work is not to lament the past but to think about what's possible."

ASU development programs aimed at Native communities include the SPIRIT orientation program, which helps Native students adjust to college life; INSPIRE, a youth camp at ASU’s Polytechnic campus; and RECHARGE, a college-readiness conference. Aside from teaching classroom skills, the programs highlight overall health and well-being and help students connect with people who support them on the path to success.

Through these efforts, ASU has a growing American Indian student body. About 2,600 Native students attend ASU, which in May saw its largest graduating class of about 360 — a number that is expected to grow.

The study found confirmed often-grim statistics that show overrepresentation in school arrests and referrals to law enforcement along with a dramatic underrepresentation in higher education. Indigenous communities also face the highest unemployment rates across the nation — as high as 90 percent on some reservations — as well as elevated rates of poverty.

But rather than stop there, the study actively sought solutions.

“Rather than ask why they aren’t successful in school, the question needs to be, ‘How can schools be more successful and beneficial to our Native boys and men?’” said Jessica Solyom, an assistant research professor in the School of Social Transformation and co-lead on the study.

The study’s conclusion calls on academic institutions and researchers to be more conscious that Native American men and boys are in turmoil and to engage in capacity-building work. Specifically, schools and researchers should seek to understand Native communities, acknowledge specific traumas, instill a greater sense of self-confidence and engage early and often. It also asks for authors, journal editors, conference reviewers and presses to be “mindful and intentional” in seeking, cultivating and encouraging submissions on ways to assist young American Indian males.

The conclusion also says community groups should develop mentoring and culturally specific development programs that engage family and mentors, strengthen students’ motivation to go to college, and build self-esteem.

Brayboy said the findings will be used by policy organizations and foundations to help guide them in their philanthropic goals.

“We’re not defining the field, but we’ve definitely outlined it,” Brayboy said. “We’re setting the table for creating better opportunities for Native peoples in the future.”

 

Top photo: From left: JD PhD in justice studies Nicholas Bustamante, doctoral student Colin Ben and JD PhD in justice studies Jeremiah Chin assign tasks for the group during a weekly meeting at the Center for Indian Education on Feb. 1. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now