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Antarctic sea ice cover hits many record lows


The amount of sea ice in Antarctica reached its smallest amount ever 2.09 million sqkm (800,000 square miles) in February. This is a continuation of the disturbing pattern in which sea ice cover is thinning as the world’s temperatures rise. For the second year in a row, Antarctic sea ice fell to its lowest extent ever in February, continuing a decade-long fall.

Antartic Sea

Key highlights:

  • Antarctica’s summer, which lasts from about October to March, sees sea ice melt before freezing over during the winter.
  • According to NASA, meltwater that originates from Antarctic ice can be responsible for around one-third of the entire global sea level rise seen since 1993.
  • The area of the sea ice has constantly maintained this year at its lowest levels ever recorded, with the exception of March and April.
  • The sea ice extent frequently fell much below the levels seen in 2022, which held the record for the second-lowest sea ice extent in Antarctica during the summer.
  • This minimum is lower than the previous record low, which happened in 2022 by 0.136,000 million sqkm. It is making it the lowest in the 45-year satellite record.
  • The Antarctic region’s April temperature in 2023 was 0.93°C warmer than it was on average between 1910 and 2000, which is the second-highest rise ever noted in millennia.


  • Antarctica is the fifth-largest and southernmost continent. An enormous ice sheet almost completely encircles its continent.
  • The term Antarctica, which almost entirely surrounds the South Pole, translates to “opposite of the Arctic.”
  • The only continent where people do not live permanently is Antarctica. However, there are permanent human settlements where scientists and support workers rotately reside for some parts of the year.

Reasons for Antarctica ice melting:

  • In contrast to the Arctic, Antarctica has responded differently to climate change.
  • It will take a few more years before we can be certain that global warming is indeed harming the floating ice surrounding Antarctica. But the declining trend in sea ice may be an indicator of it.
  • Reduced sea ice extent progressively erodes the ice shelves that surrounds Antarctica. It will cause ocean waves to pound the massive ice sheet’s shore.


  • Sea ice protects Large floating ice shelves and significant outlet glaciers like Pine Island and Thwaites. But if these glaciers start losing land ice at an alarmingly quick rate before the end of the century, sea level rise rates may spike dramatically.
  • Increased sea ice melting causes global sea levels to rise, posing a serious danger to coastal towns.

Although ice does regenerate over the winter, the new ice tends to be thinner than the multi-year ice. It making the entire surface area of Antarctica more fragile and prone.

(Source: The Hindu, 23.05.2023)


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