WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES — The sea ice around Antarctica likely had a record low surface area when it was at its maximum size this winter, a preliminary US analysis of satellite data showed Monday.
As the southern hemisphere transitions into spring, the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) said in a statement that Antarctic sea ice had only reached a maximum size of 16.96 million square kilometers (6.55 million square miles) this year, on 10 September.
The ice pack typically reaches its largest size during the colder winter months, so the September 10 reading will likely remain this year’s maximum.
“This is the lowest sea ice maximum in the 1979 to 2023 sea ice record by a wide margin,” said the NSIDC, a government-supported program at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
At its high-point this year, the sea ice was 1.03 million square kilometers smaller than the previous record, roughly the size of Texas and California combined.
“It’s a record-smashing sea ice low in the Antarctic,” said NSIDC scientist Walt Meier.
He added that the growth in sea ice appeared “low around nearly the whole continent as opposed to any one region.”
In February, at the height of the austral summer, the Antarctic sea ice pack had reached a minimum extent of 1.79 million square kilometers, also a record, according to the NSIDC.
The ice pack then grew back at an unusually slow pace, despite the onset of winter.
Meanwhile at the other end of the globe, where summer is drawing to a close, Arctic sea ice reached a low of 4.23 million square kilometers, the NSIDC said. It represents the sixth lowest minimum in 45 years of recordkeeping.
For several decades, the Antarctic sea ice pack had remained stable, even expanding slightly.
But “since August 2016, the Antarctic sea ice extent trend took a sharp downturn across nearly all months” the NSIDC said.
There is debate among scientists over the cause of the shift, with some reluctant to establish a formal link with global warming. Climate models have struggled in the past to predict changes in the Antarctic ice pack.
The downward trend is “now thought to be linked to warming in the uppermost ocean layer,” the NSIDC said.
“There is some concern that this may be the beginning of a long-term trend of decline for Antarctic sea ice, since oceans are warming globally.”
Melting pack ice has no immediate impact on sea levels, as it forms by freezing salt water already in the ocean.
But the white ice reflects more of the Sun’s rays than darker ocean water, so its loss accentuates global warming.
The loss of pack ice also exposes Antarctica’s coastline to greater wave action, which could destabilize the freshwater ice cap and endanger coastal habitats. The melting land ice would cause a catastrophic rise in sea levels.
However, the NSIDC notes a possibility that waves impacting the ice sheet may increase “accumulation near the coast, offsetting in part the threat of rising sea level.”
South Korean trainee doctors resign in protest against med-school quota increase policy
OCBC allocates one-off payment to junior employees to cope with rising cost of living
US couple’s decision to skip showers in Malaysia over discoloured water criticised
Good Samaritan earns praise for assisting lost girl in Geylang
Bishan HDB maisonette sets record with S$1.48M sale
STB grants support for Taylor Swift concerts, foresees economic boost for Singapore
NUS holds 19th, NTU climbs to 32nd in Times World University Rankings 2024
Leaks and condensation issues persist for some Tengah residents using CCS
NParks investigates alleged wild chicken capture in Pasir Ris Park
Netizens amused by ‘washrooms basic cleaning’ course on SkillsFuture
Road fatalities in Singapore surpass pre-pandemic levels in 2023
Bayer cuts dividends to legal minimum to tackle debt burden
Singapore1 week ago
PM Lee encourages more births in the year of the dragon amid declining fertility rates
Singapore1 week ago
Singapore surpasses nursing recruitment target in 2023 amidst high attrition rates
Featured5 days ago
PA surveys community & govt confidence amid pending general election
Comments6 days ago
PAP Marcus Loh accuses WP’s MP of alleged dishonesty on debate about reserves
Parliament2 weeks ago
SG Parliament rejects PSP’s motion calling for changes in reserves policies
Civil Society6 days ago
Singaporeans stand firm in support for Palestine amidst police scrutiny
Civil Society4 days ago
At least 9 individuals summoned by police over Palestine solidarity activities on 2 Feb
Community1 week ago
Connectivity struggles in Tengah town prompt online user discussion