Antarctic sea ice cover hits record high for second year in a row, earlier than last year: study

WASHINGTON: Antarctic According to a press release from National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).
On February 13, 2023, the extent of Antarctic sea ice fell to 1.91 million square kilometres, he said.
That set a new record, falling below the previous record of 1.92 million square kilometers set on Feb. 25, 2022, he said.
This year marks only the second year that the extent of Antarctica has fallen below 2 million square kilometres, the statement said.
In recent years, the annual low has occurred between February 18 and March 3, so a further decline is expected this year, he said.
With a few more weeks likely in the melt season, the magnitude is expected to decline further before reaching its annual minimum, he said.
Much of the Antarctic coast is ice-free, exposing the ice shelves that fringe the ice sheet to wave action and warmer conditions, the statement said.
The NSIDC is a US information and reference center that supports polar and cryospheric research.
The NSIDC is part of the Cooperative Institute for Environmental Science Research (CIRES) at the University of Colorado at Boulder and is affiliated with the National Environmental Information Centers of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA ) through a cooperation agreement.
Sea ice extent has been well below last year’s melt season levels since mid-December, according to the NSIDC statement.
A positive southerly annular mode resulted in stronger than average westerly winds. Along with a strong Amundsen marine low, the weather brought warm air to the region from both sides of the Antarctic Peninsula, the statement said.
This has largely eliminated ice cover in the Amundsen and Bellingshausen Seas and reduced the extent of sea ice in the northwest Weddell Sea, the NSIDC said.
Sea ice is patchy and almost absent along a long stretch of the Antarctic coast facing the Pacific, the NSIDC said.
Previous studies have linked low sea ice cover to wave-induced stresses on floating ice shelves that fringe the continent, causing weaker areas to break up, the statement said.
Antarctic sea ice extent has been highly variable in recent years. While 2022 and 2023 saw record low extents, four of the five highest lows have occurred since 2008, the NSIDC said.
Overall, the trend in Antarctica’s minimum extent from 1979 to 2023 is close to zero, the NSIDC said.
The current linear downward trend in the minimum extent of Antarctica from 1979 to 2023 is 2,400 square kilometers per year, or 0.9% per decade, which is currently not statistically significant, said the NSIDC.
Nonetheless, the steep decline in sea ice extent since 2016 has fueled research into potential causes and whether southern hemisphere sea ice loss is developing a significant downward trend, according to the press release.

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