This Week in Geographic History: Temperature Change in Antarctica

We’re slowing down for the summer! Instead of our usual roundup of “This Day in Geographic History” (TDIGH) events, here’s a closer look at one historic event that connects to something in the news today. We’ve also matched it with a map or visual, background information, and additional resources. Check out our Pinterest board for more related resources.

Friday, July 21

NGS Picture Id:1528142
Emperor penguins stand at the water’s edge next to an iceberg in Antarctica’s Ross Sea. Photograph by Paul Nicklen, National Geographic.

TDIGH: World’s Lowest Temperature Recorded

The 1983 temperature of -89 degrees Celsius or -129 degrees Fahrenheit recorded in Vostok Station, Antarctica was considered the lowest temperature ever recorded until 2010. However, the 2010 temperature (-93° Celsius or -136° Fahrenheit) was taken on the ice surface itself, while the earlier temperature was taken in the ambient air.

Current Event: Massive iceberg breaks away from Antarctica

An iceberg roughly the size of Delaware broke off of the Antarctic Peninsula this week, creating new questions about climate change and future sea level rise.




Discovery of Antarctica

NG resources about ice

More information about sea level

Video “Extreme Weather: Sea Level Rise”

Article from NPR about the iceberg breaking away

Discussion Questions:  

  1. What global effects do you think would result from rising sea levels?
  2. Temperatures in Antarctica have fluctuated over the last decade, showing both warming and cooling. Some people use this information as evidence against global warming. What climate factors does this argument fail to take into account? (Use this article to guide the discussion.)


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