Record lowest Antarctic sea ice extent

Figure 1 – Data courtesy of NSIDC

It’s always been a question of when, rather than if the Antarctic sea ice extent record would be broken this season, but finally the 2.246 million square kilometres for the 12th February (fig 1), has dipped just a fraction lower than the 2.264 of the 22nd of September in 1997, to break the lowest minimum record in the satellite series that started in 1978. Earlier in the season it looked like the extent would be as much as 30% below the long-term minimum, but the decline did slow, and at the moment (12th February) it’s only 25.8% lower than average for that date. The decline in Antarctic sea ice is even more spectacular, considering that it was just over two years ago that they were at record high levels (fig 2), and the decline is set to continue for another four weeks before the minima is reached, so a sub 2 million minima is a distinct possibility.

Figure 2 – Data courtesy of NSIDC

I notice that the National Geographic were able to do an article about the record yesterday even before the figures were released by the NSIDC, which is fair enough, because if it wasn’t for the Americans, there wouldn’t be a SII anyway. And finally, here is this season overlaid on the previous 38 or so, to put it into some kind of perspective (fig 3).

Figure 3 – Data courtesy of NSIDC

Author: xmetman

An ex-metman passionate about all things to do with weather, climate and clouds

2 thoughts on “Record lowest Antarctic sea ice extent”

  1. Yet, there are other reports of increased Ice –

    “In the past few years, the Polar Star’s crew worked through approximately 12 to 13 miles of ice in an effort to reach McMurdo Station.

    This year (2017), there was more than 60 miles of ice to break, with thickness ranging from two feet to more than 10 feet.”

    So something is wrong somewhere ?

  2. One reason seems to be a collapse in the katabatic winds. I would add some caution with the satellite coverage as several have failed leaving poorer quality measurement. See satellite F17-19 failures.