Antarctica in troubles: another negative record for sea ice extent

Sea ice extent as of August 15 is particularly low in the Ross Sea and in the eastern Weddell Sea, where the most marked shortages are noted, while it is slightly increasing in the Bellingshausen Sea

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Antarctica in troubles: another negative record for sea ice extent

Antarctica's sea ice growth has been stabilizing since early August, despite the continent being in the midst of its winter, setting a new very low record. The maximum ice extension should be in September, but at the moment the ice extension is practically at a standstill.

However, temperatures are locally very low, despite the fact that growth has stabilized. Sea ice extent as of August 15 is particularly low in the Ross Sea and in the eastern Weddell Sea, where the most marked shortages are noted, while it is slightly increasing in the Bellingshausen Sea.

Slightly above-average extent is also recorded in the Amundsen Sea and western Bellingshausen Sea. On Aug. 15, sea ice extent was 15.12 million square kilometers in Antarctica, or 2.54 million square kilometers less than the 1981-2010 30-year average.
This year's numbers for sea ice extent are lower than last year's numbers for the same period, by 1.73 million square kilometers from the previous record low in 1986.

Since 2016, researchers have begun to observe a strong declining trend in sea ice. Although natural climate variability affects its magnitude, many scientists confirm that climate change could be a major driver of ice disappearance.

Antarctica victim of a new very negative record

Unlike the Arctic, where sea ice has followed a steadily downward trajectory as the climate crisis accelerates, sea ice in the Antarctic has gone from record highs to record lows in recent decades, making it more difficult for scientists to figure out how it is reacting to global warming.

University of Colorado Boulder glaciologist Ted Scambos told CNN: “The game has changed. It makes no sense to talk about the probability of this happening, he clearly tells us that the system has changed. The Antarctic system has always been highly variable.

This level of variation, however, is so extreme that something radical has changed in the last two years, but especially this year, compared to all previous years going back at least 45 years." As of mid-July, Antarctica's sea ice was 2.6 million square kilometers below its 1981-2010 average.

This is an area almost the size of Argentina or the areas of Texas, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Colorado combined.