The ever-disappearing Antarctic sea ice

Antarctic sea ice extent for each year from 1979 to 2023 (satellite-era; NSIDC, DMSP SSM/I-SSMIS), updated 31/7/2023. Visualisation by Zachary Labe.

The British Antarctic Survey looked at Antarctic sea ice extent and how it changes over a given 12-month period. The above visualisation shows every year of this from 1979 to 2023 but it’s this year’s period that showing something alarming:

Antarctic sea ice has been quite stable in its average extent over that period – until 2016, when it began to decline. Since 2016, there have been seen several record summer lows, with Antarctic summers 2021/22 and 2022/23 setting new sea ice minimas.

At the start of August 2023, the depths of Antarctic winter, deviation from all previous records has intensified. As of August 2023, the sea ice extent is almost 2.4 million km² lower than the 1979-2022 average – a missing area around ten times the size of the UK.

British Antarctic Survey

If it’s not the Arctic, it’s the Antarctic. Are the biggest offenders ever going to stop this climate crisis? Or is it too late?

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