Antarctic winter sea ice hits ‘extreme’ record low


The US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) said on September 25 that sea ice covering the ocean around Antarctica has reached a record low this winter, increasing scientists’ fears that climate change will impact the South Pole. The influence is increasing.

Researchers warn that this change could have serious consequences for animals like penguins that nest and raise their young on sea ice, as well as increasing global warming by reducing the amount of sunlight reflected by the white ice into space. Can also speed up.

NSIDC said Antarctic sea ice extent peaked on Sept. 10 this year, when it covered 16.96 million square kilometers (6.55 million square miles), the lowest maximum ice extent in winter since satellite records began in 1979. Is. This is about 1 million square kilometers less snow than the previous winter record, set in 1986.

“This is not just a record-breaking year, this is an extreme record-breaking year,” said Walt Meier, senior scientist at NSIDC.

NSIDC said in a statement that the data is preliminary and a full analysis will be released next month.

In the Southern Hemisphere the seasons are reversed and sea ice typically peaks at the end of winter around September and later melts to its lowest point in February or March as summer approaches.

Summer Antarctic sea ice extent also reached a record low in February, breaking the previous figure set in 2022.

The Arctic has been hard hit by climate change over the past decade, with sea ice rapidly deteriorating as the northern region warms four times faster than the global average.

While climate change is contributing to the melting of glaciers in Antarctica, it is less certain how warmer temperatures are affecting sea ice near the South Pole. The extent of sea ice there increased between 2007 and 2016.

The shift toward record-low conditions in recent years has scientists worried that climate change could eventually be reflected in Antarctic sea ice.

While Mr Meyer cautioned it was too early to tell, an academic article published earlier this month in the journal Communications Earth and Environment pointed to climate change as a possible factor.

The study found that rising ocean temperatures, primarily due to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, are contributing to the lower sea ice levels seen since 2016.

“The main message here is that protecting these frozen parts of the world that are really important for many reasons, we really need to,” said sea ice researcher Ariane Purich of Monash University, Australia, who co-authored the study. To reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.”

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