South Pole ice at lowest level in 44 years

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WASHINGTON.— Antarctic sea ice is at its lowest level in 44 years.

On September 10, Antarctic sea ice reached a maximum annual extent of 16.96 million square kilometers,” reported the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) of the United States.

“This is by far the minimum sea ice recorded between 1979 and 2023,” he added.

The maximum area reached this year is 1.03 million square kilometers less than the previous record.

For several decades, Antarctic sea ice remained stable or even expanded slightly.

Although the trend has changed.

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Since August 2016, the trend in the extent of Antarctic sea ice has experienced a sharp decline, during almost every month of the year, the agency explained.

The explanation is the subject of debate among scientists, who are cautious about establishing a direct link with global warming.

Currently, climate models have had difficulty in the past predicting changes in Antarctic sea ice.

However, at least in the last seven years there is evidence of the relationship with climate change.

This trend since 2016 now seems linked to the warming of the upper layer of the ocean, the US observatory reported.

“There are concerns that this may be the start of a long-term trend of declining Antarctic sea ice as the oceans warm on a global scale,” he said.

Melting sea ice does not have an immediate impact on sea level, because it forms when salt water already present in the ocean freezes.

But white ice reflects the sun's rays more than darker ocean, so its loss exacerbates global warming.


The loss of sea ice also further exposes Antarctica's coasts to waves, which could destabilize the polar shell, which is made up of fresh water.

Its melting would cause a catastrophic rise in ocean levels.

“There is concern that this may be the beginning of a long-term trend of declining Antarctic sea ice as the oceans warm on a global scale,” the NSIDC said.

Last January, images of a giant body of ice breaking off from the Brunt platform in Antarctica were released.

This body of frozen water has an area of ​​about 1,550 square kilometers, the equivalent of the area of ​​London.

This event occurred when the Chasm-1 crack spread across the entire shelf and occurred ten years after scientists at the British Antarctic Survey alerted to the growth of cracks in the ice, according to National Geographic.

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