Antarctica — it’s never been this bad before.
That the climate is changing due to human activity is not new information to anyone. Record-breaking Antarctica is, for now, an anomaly in the statistics. Interesting, but uniquely unrelated to the environmental catastrophe unfolding.
For the first time since accurate satellite measurements have been made — i.e., in 43 years — the area of Antarctic sea ice has fallen to less than 2 million square kilometers, The Washington Post reports. That’s not the only alarming sign. Antarctic sea ice increases or decreases depending on the season. Typically for the region, its area reaches an annual maximum in late September. Meanwhile, in 2021, its area began shrinking as early as the beginning of the month.
According to the scientists responsible for these measurements, this is likely due to changing weather conditions and increasingly warmer winds. However, they point out that the data do not show a clear and direct correlation with climate change. The alarming record sounds threatening, but the scientists stress that variability in Antarctic ice accumulations is normal. What’s more, according to their data, from 1905 to 1979, the continent’s ice declined, but also from 1979 to 2015, its area increased year after year.
Is the declining ice in Antarctica evidence of destructive human activity on climate? No. Is it a denial that humans are affecting the climate? Also no.
Scientists note that human emissions of greenhouse gases are an important but not the only force affecting climate and Antarctica. For this particular continent, natural forces still have more power over the conditions there. The main factors here are ocean currents and winds. Scientists do not have data for this, but they believe that sea ice may have been even less in Antarctica in the past.
This is grist for the mill for those who do not believe in the scientific consensus of unequivocally pointing to human influence on catastrophic climate change. The same scientists responsible for the above report also remind us that average temperatures in Antarctica (and the Arctic) are rising at an alarming rate year after year. Arctic ice is getting smaller all the time, and warmer sea currents — if the current warming trend continues — will break up the Thwaites Glacier, an Antarctic ice sheet about the size of Florida that accounts for 4 percent of annual sea level rise.
Last Thursday, the temperature in East Antarctica, according to the Concorida station, reached 32 degrees Celsius higher than the statistical average: -12 degrees Celsius. This is a record not only for this time of year, but also the warmest day in Antarctica ever. Or at least from the historical data available to scientists. The measurements are confirmed by the middle-eastern station Wostok. It recorded a temperature of -17.7 degrees Celsius that day. The typical temperature for this region in March is -60 C.