Weather and Natural Disasters

Antarctica hits highest temp recorded, and here's what it means

One week of extreme temperatures in Antarctica isn't something to worry about by itself, but it's something to watch closely in the coming months and years, says a meteorological expert at the the University of Wisconsin-Madison. (Tweet this.)

A research vessel sailing the Lemaire Channel, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica.
DeAgostini | Getty Images

Last week, two recordings from the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula showed temperatures well above 60 degrees in what The Weather Underground reported was a "remarkable heat wave." A reading on Tuesday of 63 degrees is believed to mark the highest temperature ever recorded on the southernmost continent.

Read MoreAntarctica hits highest temp recorded—63 F

A single temperature event doesn't make a trend, but it's a situation worth watching, said Jordan Gerth, a researcher at the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies.

"One rare temperature doesn't tell us a whole lot," Gerth said. "But if we see these events happening more frequently over the next decade or so, it could be a larger story to tell."

Closing the carbon cycle
Closing the carbon cycle

Gerth explained that the South Pole has its own polar vortex that expands and contracts. And as the Southern Hemisphere exits its summer period, it is possible to see extreme weather events such as the one last week.

"It's a very strange occurrence to set a continental record," he said. "But it did occur near the fringe, so it isn't as significant as a reading reached near the actual pole."

Gerth said that researchers track rare temperature readings from both poles over years and decades in search of trends.