The amount of sea ice around Antarctica has melted to a record low in January, scientists said this week.
As of January 1, there were 2.11 million square miles of sea ice around the continent, the smallest area in January since records began in 1978, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
Sea ice is a frozen seawater that melts every summer and then freezes every winter. The Antarctic ice floe is generally smaller in late February or early March, towards the end of summer in the southern hemisphere.
"The extent of the Antarctic ice floe is surprisingly low this year, not only near the Ross ice floes, but from much of the continent," Grist Cecilia Bitz, a polar scientist at the university, said on Thursday. from Washington.
Specifically, the surface of the sea ice around Antarctica on January 1 was 11,600 square miles lower than the previous record level for that date, set in 2017. It was 726,000 square miles lower than the average , about twice the size of the state of Texas.
While there was only six to eight weeks of melting, the center of the ice declared that it remained to be seen whether the Antarctic ice sheet would reach its record low.
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The loss of sea ice – especially in the Arctic and less in the Antarctic – is one of the clearest signals of global warming, according to the report. climate assessment conducted at national level last year.
Besides the anthropogenic warming of the Earth's atmosphere and oceans, many factors – including the geography of Antarctica, the winds of the region, as well as the temperatures of the air and oceans – affect the ice around Antarctica.
"Although it is too early to isolate the causes of the rapid decline in December and recent record low levels, it is likely that unusual weather conditions and high sea surface temperatures – important factors in 2016-17 record lows – play a role, "said a statement from the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
The center added that although sea ice mainly occurs in polar regions, it influences our global climate and weather conditions around the world.