Antarctic sea ice hit record low in February

Sea ice extent in Antarctica reached a record low last February, according to the latest report by the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), released by the European Commission’s Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.

The Northern Hemisphere winter was the second warmest on record in Europe. Climate officials warn that the latest data indicate possible alarming increases in the sea ​​level.

According to a statement released this Wednesday by C3S, Antarctic sea ice has reached its lowest monthly extent since satellite records began 45 years ago. February 2023 reached 34% below the historical average corresponding to this month, surpassing the previous record of 2017.

The daily extent of that ice also hit a record low, surpassing the previous record set in February 2022, with concentrations well below average across all sectors of the Southern Ocean.

Arctic sea ice below average

In the Arctic, sea ice coverage was also 4% below average, the second lowest reading for February since satellite records exist, with the lowest concentrations in the Barents Sea and the Svalbard region.

These low sea ice conditions could have important implications for the stability of Antarctic ice shelves and ultimately for global sea level rise.”, warns Samantha Burgess, deputy director of C3S. “The polar ice caps are a sensitive indicator of the climate crisis and it is important to closely monitor the changes taking place in them.“, To add.

The fifth hottest February in the world

The second month of 2023 was the fifth warmest February in the world, with above-average temperatures in places like the eastern US, northern Russia, Pakistan, India and much of Europe, especially northern Norway and Sweden.

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Conversely, thermostats also fell below average in the Iberian Peninsula, Turkey, western US, Canada, northeastern Russia and northern Australia. In any case, the winter was the second warmest ever recorded in Europe, with temperatures well above average in the east and northeast regions of the old continent.

While most of Western and Southern Europe experienced drier than average conditions, some regions recorded record levels of soil moisture. Elsewhere on the planet, the driest regions were parts of South America, which suffered from droughts and wildfires, as well as southern Australia and southern western Africa.

February was especially wet in the southern United States, parts of Russia, central and eastern Asia, northern Australia, southern Brazil, southeastern Africa and New Zealand. In many cases, heavy rains, sometimes associated with cyclones, caused flooding.

A particularly warm winter

The winter was the second warmest on record in Europe, with temperatures well above average in the east and parts of the northeast. The west and southeast regions have also been drier than average, while humidity has been higher in some parts of the Iberian Peninsula, as well as in the southwest and northeast of the continent.

This season was also wetter than average across western North America, western Russia, parts of central Asia, northern Australia, southern Brazil and southern Africa. The driest regions were Mexico, most of Central Asia, the Horn of Africa, southern Australia and much of South America.

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