Climate change: Sea ice levels reach lowest level on record in the Antarctic Ocean – iNews


There is currently less ice in the Antarctic Ocean than at any time on record as climate change pushes up temperatures – and it is continuing to melt, according to new figures.
Preliminary measurements show the sea ice around the continent fell to 1.98 million square kilometres on Sunday 20 February – below the previous record minimum, set in March 2017, of 2.1 million square kilometres.
This is the lowest level since the National Snow and Ice Data Center began taking satellite measurements in 1979.
These measurements show that Antarctic sea ice cover typically peaks around the start of October, at about 18 million square kilometres, and troughs around the start of March, at about 2.8 million square kilometres.
Laura Meller, a Greenpeace campaigner who is currently on board a scientific expedition to the Antarctic, said she was seeing the scale of the melting first hand.
“It is terrifying to witness this frozen ocean melting down. The consequences of these changes extend to the whole planet, impacting marine food webs around the globe,” she added.
“In 2020 we witnessed the Arctic reaching its second-lowest sea ice extent on record. Every human being on Earth depends on healthy oceans to survive; this is a clear warning that we need to protect them for good.
Over the past two decades, the region has seen extreme variations in its sea ice extent, but this year’s drop is unprecedented since measurements began, with some parts of the Antarctic warming faster than anywhere else on the planet, Ms Meller said.
The Antarctic ice sheet is melting three times faster now than in the 90s, making a significant contribution to rising sea levels around the world.
Rapid warming and melting ice has already pushed populations of Antarctic krill – small crustaceans that play a key role in the food chain – southward.
And the Greenpeace expedition currently exploring the Antarctic reported last month finding penguins in areas where they have not been able to live before because it was too cold, as climate change warms the frozen continent.
A new colony of gentoo penguins, a species suited to the warmer sub-Antarctic waters, was found at Andersson Island on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. A colony had never before been recorded there before.
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