The sea ice in Antarctica has shrunk to its lowest recorded level in the last four decades, according to the data collected by the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC).
The data reveals that the sea ice on the frozen continent covered an area of just 2.26 million square kilometres on 14 February 2017, which is even lower than the previously recorded lowest mark that was taken in 1997.
• While the sea ice in the Arctic region has shown a relatively steady decline in its level over the past three decades as a result of rise in global temperature, the sea ice in the southern hemisphere has been more erratic and unpredictable when it comes to its extent.
• In 2012, the ice extent in Antarctic Sea actually hit a record monthly high. Scientists’ attributed its growth to melting ice shelves.
• Following this, further evidence was accumulated on ice melt in the Southern Hemisphere including aerial views of cracks on western Antarctic ice.
• However, the data recorded on 14 February reveals an all-time low mark for Antarctica’s sea ice extent, which even surpasses the record lows seen around the same time in 1997.
• According to researchers, the sea ice is likely to decrease even further as it generally melts to its lowest level of the year by the end of February when it is the summer of the southern hemisphere.
Commenting on the development Mark Serreze, Director of NSIDC, stated that the new numbers are preliminary and still need to be confirmed. However, he added that unless something out of the ordinary happens, they are looking at an all-time low record of sea ice cover in Antarctica.
In fact, the NSIDC had reported at the end of last year that both Arctic and Antarctic sea ice had hit record monthly lows in November 2016.
The current data is just yet another indicator of global warming, which inevitably leads to the concern of rise in sea level and other climatic impacts.