Melting Milestone: Unprecedented Decline in Antarctic Sea Ice During Hottest June

Antarctic sea ice levels have undergone a “massive decrease” in June 2023, which was the hottest June ever recorded. The sea ice extent in Antarctica was 17% below average, breaking the June 2022 record by a substantial margin and representing “a really dramatic drop in the sea ice extent in the Antarctica”. The amount of floating sea ice encircling Antarctica reached the lowest level ever recorded, which is a sign that the climate system may be responding to the overall planetary warming trend. The back-to-back record lows could begin to reassure scientists that Antarctic sea ice is finally starting to behave as expected as the planet warms.

Antarctic sea ice extent has been highly variable over the last several years. While 2022 and 2023 have had record low minimum extent, four out of the five highest minimums have occurred since 2008. Overall, the trend is that Antarctic sea ice is decreasing as the planet warms.

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