Satellite data has revealed that the marine ice surrounding Antarctica has reached historic lows, with a significant amount of ice disappearing. The current floating ice on the surface of the Southern Ocean measures less than 6.5 million square miles, a decrease of 579,000 square miles compared to the previous September average. This amount of lost ice is approximately equivalent to the size of Australia’s Northern Territory.
The situation has been described as “astonishing” by Walter Meier from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, who emphasizes that it is unprecedented. Dr. Ariaan Purich, a climate scientist from Monash University, expresses concern about the decline in marine ice as it has significant ecological implications. Marine ice acts as habitat for marine life and helps regulate temperatures by reflecting solar radiation back into space.
The melting of Antarctic ice has been attributed to rising global temperatures. A recent study by Dr. Purich, in collaboration with other researchers, suggests that increasing greenhouse gas emissions are causing the warming of the Southern Ocean. This warming can amplify global warming, as less marine ice means more solar radiation is absorbed by the ocean surface, leading to faster warming.
The decrease in marine ice coverage around Antarctica has been particularly pronounced this year. In June and July, there was significantly less marine ice than usual, with a difference of approximately 965,000 square miles in the Southern Ocean, equivalent to the size of Western Australia. Scientists warn that these changes are alarming and emphasize the urgency of taking action regarding climate change. Reducing emissions is crucial to minimize the impact of these significant changes in the future.
– National Snow and Ice Data Center
– Australian Antarctic Program
– Dr. Ariaan Purich, Monash University
– Study co-authored by Dr. Purich