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.
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).