(ORDO NEWS) — Climatologists have found that at the end of February this year, the area of seasonal sea ice in Antarctica for the first time fell below two million square kilometers on record. This was announced on Tuesday by the press service of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Academy of Sciences.
“The process of sea ice reduction is constantly accelerating because the sea surface is much darker than pure ice, and therefore it absorbs more and more heat as the area of the south polar cap decreases.
This additionally warms the waters of the sea, as a result of which more melts ice and even more heat enters the ocean,” said Yang Qinghua, professor at the Sun Yat-sen University in Zhuhai (China), quoted by the press service of the IPF CAS.
The first and main victims of global warming will be the polar regions of the Earth and mountain glaciers. The temperature on their territory has already become 4-9 degrees Celsius higher than in past centuries, which will lead to a noticeable reduction in their area and the release of large areas of Antarctica and the Arctic from ice in the coming centuries.
These processes have already begun to affect the glaciers in the western part of Antarctica, especially the ice masses covering the Antarctic Peninsula.
For example, four years ago, one of the last fragments of the Larsen glacier, located on its territory, collapsed. As a result of this, an iceberg weighing a trillion tons appeared, comparable in area to Estonia or the Moscow Region.
Record reduction in ice area
Professor Yang Qinghua and colleagues found that the Antarctic sea ice area experienced yet another record reduction during this austral summer, bringing it below 2 million square kilometers for the first time on record.
Climate scientists currently estimate that Antarctic sea ice covered about 1.9 million square kilometers at the end of February, 0.17 million kilometers less than the previous record set in 2017. This event continued a long-term trend of rapidly shrinking seasonal sea ice in Antarctica that began in 2014.
According to the researchers’ calculations, the ultra-rapid reduction in the area of these ices this year was associated not only with long-term climate trends due to global warming, but also with the intensification of two periodic climatic phenomena, La Niña and the Antarctic Oscillation, which mainly affect the climate of temperate and tropical oceans. latitudes.
Their activation unexpectedly led to serious changes in the nature of the movement of currents in the southern part of the World Ocean, as well as to the restructuring of air flows in the lower layers of the atmosphere over the Antarctic.
This additionally increased the heating of the marine part of the south polar cap and accelerated its melting both during the southern spring and during the summer. Further study of the impact of La Niña and the Antarctic Oscillation on the Antarctic will help to accurately assess their contribution to the melting of ice, the scientists concluded.
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