Sea ice cover in Antarctica records all time low: WMO

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New Delhi: Sea ice extent in Antarctica reached an all-time minimum in February for the second consecutive year as per the World Meteorological Agency (WMO) State of the Global Climate reports.

The Arctic sea ice extent was also the second lowest (joint) on record, as per the findings.

The Report “February sees low sea ice and extreme weather”, published by World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said the Sea ice has a big influence on global, regional, and local weather patterns, and vice versa, and is a key climate indicator.

Antarctic sea ice extent has traditionally shown large inter-annual and regional variability between West Antarctica and the Antarctic peninsula, and the much bigger East Antarctica.

However, some scientists say this may be changing. Over the past decade, there is less regional variability and this has contributed to the lower Antarctic sea ice extents that have been observed since 2016.

Spanning 14 million km2 , the Antarctic is cold, windy and dry. The average annual temperature ranges from about −10°C on the Antarctic coast to −60°C at the highest parts of the interior.

Its immense ice sheet is up to 4.8km thick and contains 90% of the world’s fresh water, enough to raise sea level by around 60 metres were it all to melt.

The Antarctic Peninsula (the northwest tip near to South America) is among the fastest warming regions of the planet, almost 3°C over the last 50 years.

Winter was the joint second warmest on record for Europe, with much above-average temperatures over eastern Europe and parts of north-eastern Europe, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service operated by ECMWF.

Sea ice extent is the area of ice spread across the Arctic Ocean at any given time. The sea ice bounces sunlight back into space, thus playing a crucial role in maintaining ocean and air temperatures, which is important for the survival of life.

Globally, it was the fifth warmest February on record, with many extremes in temperature and precipitation, according to the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. Europe had its second-warmest winter on record.

“Changes in sea ice extent can have major impacts on society and ecosystems” said the WMO’s annual Global Climate report.

“Antarctic sea ice extent tracked at record lows in both January and February. By the end of February, extent was 1.83 million square kilometers . This is 93,000 square kilometers (35

Throughout last year, the extent of sea ice was generally low in Antarctica, with new ice thinner and more fragile than normal, noted WMO.

The Arctic is warming more than twice as fast as the global average warming. As a result, Arctic sea ice has retreated dramatically over the 45-year satellite record.

“Sea ice extent was the second joint lowest on record at the end of the winter freezing period in February, or 1.12 million square kilometers below the 1981 to 2010 average (15.30 million square kilometers or 5.91 million square miles), according to the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.

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