Sea ice in Antarctica has dropped to the lowest levels ever recorded.
The quantity of sea ice in the southern hemisphere summer of 2022 decreased to 1.92 million square kilometers on February 25th – a record low since satellite observations began in 1979.
But by February 12th of this year, the benchmark set in 2022 had already been surpassed. The ice continued to evaporate, setting a new record low of 1.79 million square kilometers on February 25th and surpassing the previous record by 136,000 square kilometers – an area twice the size of Tasmania.
In the spring of the southern hemisphere, powerful winds buffeted the ice over western Antarctica. Simultaneously, according to Hobbs, vast portions of the western continent had barely recovered from the previous year’s losses.
Important is the fate of Antarctica, particularly the land ice, because the continent contains enough ice to elevate sea levels by several meters if it were to melt.
Sea ice mitigates the impact of cyclones on attached ice along the coast. If it disappears for a prolonged period of time, the increased wave action can weaken the floating ice shelves, which in turn stabilize the massive ice sheets and glaciers behind them.