Sea ice

Antarctica's sea ice hit another low this year – understanding how ocean warming is driving the loss is key

9 April 2024

At the end of the southern summer, Antarctica’s sea ice hit its annual minimum. By at least one measure, which tracks the area of ocean that contains at least 15% of sea ice, it was a little above the record low of 2023.

At the time, I was aboard the Italian icebreaker Laura Bassi, ironically surrounded by sea ice about 10km off Cape Hallett and unable to make our way to one of the expedition’s sampling sites.

Even just a decade ago, sea ice reliably rebuilt itself each winter. But something has changed in how the Southern Ocean works and the area covered by sea ice has decreased dramatically.

Our aim was to track the changes happening in the ocean around Antarctica and to make targeted measurements of some of the processes we think are responsible for this loss of sea ice. Most likely, this is a consequence of warming oceans and so we focused on identifying the pathways warmer seawater could find to drive more melting.

- Read the full article, written by Professor Craig Stevens, in The Conversation.