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Sea ice levels are at historic lows in Antarctica and are causing concern

Sea ice levels are at historic lows in Antarctica and are causing concern

The US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) reported on Monday that sea ice surrounding Antarctica has reached its lowest levels on record this winter, raising scientists’ concerns about the increasing impact of climate change on Antarctica. .

Researchers say the changes could have serious consequences for animals such as penguins, which breed and raise their young on sea ice, as well as accelerating global warming by reducing the amount of light that white ice reflects back into space.

The NSIDC said Antarctic sea ice peaked this year on September 10, when it covered 16.96 million square kilometers, the lowest winter maximum since satellite records began in 1979. This is about 1 million square kilometers less than the previous record in 1986.

“It’s not just a record year, it’s a very record year,” said Walt Meyer, chief scientist at NSIDC. Although climate change is contributing to the melting of glaciers in Antarctica, there is little certainty about the impact of warmer temperatures on sea ice near Antarctica, as the extent of ice in the region increased between 2007 and 2016.

The shift in recent years to record-low conditions has scientists worried that climate change is finally showing itself in Antarctic sea ice. An academic article published this month in the journal Communications Earth and Environment found that rising ocean temperatures, driven mainly by greenhouse gases, are contributing to the decline in sea ice levels since 2016.

“The main message here is that we need to protect these frozen parts of the world which are very important for a number of factors,” said Ariane Burich of Monash University in Australia. He is one of the study’s co-authors. “We really need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.”

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