The US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) reported that the sea ice covering the Southern Ocean has arrived. record lows this winter, which increases scientists’ fears that the impact of climate change on the South Pole will worsen.
Researchers warn that this change may have dire consequences for animals such as penguins, which breed and reproduce on sea ice, in addition to accelerating global warming by reducing the amount of sunlight reflected by the white ice into space.
The extent of Antarctic sea ice reached its peak this year on September 10, when it covered 16.96 million square kilometers. the lowest winter maximum since records began by satellite in 1979, according to the NSIDC. This is one million square kilometers less ice than the previous winter record, which was set in 1986.
“This is not just a record year, but a record year” said Walt Meier, chief scientist at NSIDC. In a statement, NSIDC said the numbers are preliminary and that the full analysis will be published next month.
The seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere, and sea ice usually peaks in September, near the end of winter, then melts to its lowest point in February or March, as summer approaches. .
Antarctic sea ice extent in summer also hit a record low in February surpassing the previous mark set in 2022.
High sea surface temperatures
The Arctic has been hit hard by climate change over the past decade, with sea ice rapidly deteriorating as the northernmost region. warming four times faster than the global average.
Although climate change is contributing to the melting of Antarctic glaciers, it is not known for sure how warming temperatures are affecting sea ice near the South Pole, as it increased between 2007 and 2016.
However, the shift in recent years toward record-low conditions has scientists concerned about the possibility that climate change is finally manifesting itself in Antarctic sea ice. Although Meier cautioned that it was too early to tell, an academic paper published earlier this month in the journal Communications Earth and Environment pointed to climate change as a potential cause.
The study found that the warming ocean temperatures leading to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, contributed to the lowest sea ice extent seen since 2016.
“The key message here is that to protect the frozen parts of the world is very important for many reasons,” said Ariaan Purich, a sea ice researcher at Monash University in Australia who co-authored the study,” in fact. we need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.«