Russian researchers measure ice in the Arctic and Antarctic
© RIA Novosti, Vera Kostamo

Russian researchers measure ice in the Arctic and Antarctic

Climate change has resulted in shrinking ice sheets near both of the planet’s poles, researchers from the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute concluded.

2023 ranked fourth in terms of the summer minimums in the Arctic for the past 40 years and proved to be very interesting in terms of the development of ice conditions. In the first half of the summer, ice in the Arctic Ocean and its seas melted at a relatively slow pace. However, starting in August, after an influx of warm air masses from the south, these destructive processes went much faster.

As a result of summer thawing and destruction, as of September 2023, ice-cover was reduced to 4.3 million square kilometers (well below the normal reduction to 5.9 million square kilometers) and is now 1.6 million square kilometers (or 27 percent) less than it was supposed to be. The decline in the ice-cover this year was quite significant, but not extreme, scientists say. In 2012, 2019 and 2020, more ice mass was lost.

But the Arctic’s record, in 2012 when the ice-cover after the summer thawing and destruction, of melting to 3.5 million square kilometers (compared to the normal 5.9 million), and was 2.4 million square kilometers (almost 40 percent) less than normal. In the summer 2020, ice loss in the Arctic was also anomalous, as the remaining ice area was only 3.8 million square kilometers that year.

At the end of the winter, record low ice cover for the entire history of observations was recorded in the Antarctic. According to institute researchers, in the winter 2023, the entire ice cover in the region was only 19.04 million square kilometers (as compared to a normal 20.46 million), which is some 1.4 million square kilometers (or 7.5 percent) less than it is supposed to be.

Summer has just ended in the Northern Hemisphere, and spring has begun in the Southern Hemisphere. This means that the Antarctic is seeing the maximum volume of ice while in the Arctic, this is when the highest rate of ice melting and destruction takes place.