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Antarctic sea ice has never been this thin in July, according to a satellite survey

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Antarctic sea ice around the South Pole was not so small. The European Climate Change Service warned that last month it reached the smallest July area since satellite records began in 1979. CopernicusConfirming a terrible year.

>> Infographics: Visualize heat waves at both poles

The normal cycle of sea ice in the Arctic, as in Antarctica, is that it melts in the summer and re-forms in the winter. Antarctic sea ice in July (the winter month in the Southern Hemisphere) is only modified by an average of 15.3 million square kilometers. That’s 7% less than the average for this month between 1991 and 2020, Copernicus (C3S) scientists found.

At the end of the austral summer, in February, sea ice shrank to its historic lows, alarming scientists. This was 30% lower than the three-decade average between 1981 and 2010. Since February, it has been below the season average, according to C3S. Already in June, the month reached its lowest level in history.

Because sea ice is ice floating in the ocean, its melting does not raise sea levels, but indirectly contributes to global warming because the open ocean absorbs more heat.

Illustrating the incomplete understanding of the warming phenomenon in Antarctica, Copernicus recalls that sea ice there, a year ago, was above average in July 2021.

In the Arctic, July sea ice extent was 4% below average, the 12th lowest July extent on record, according to Copernicus.

The year 2022 collects the world’s weather records. According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a UN specialized agency based in Geneva, July is one of the three hottest months in the world.

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