An unprecedented sea ice retreat in the Weddell Sea driving an overall decrease of the Antarctic sea-ice extent over the 20th century

Sea-ice extent is predicted to decrease in a warming climate. However, despite global warming over the past century, total Antarctic sea ice remained relatively stable from 1979 until 2015, before strongly melting. Here we explore the long-term sea ice variability by reconstructing Antarctic sea ice since 1700 CE, based on paleoclimate records and data assimilation. Our results indicate a decline in southern hemisphere sea-ice extent over the 20th century, driven by a reduction of 0.26 million km2 in the Weddell Sea that reached values at the end of the century lower than any other reconstructed period. The Ross Sea experienced an increasing sea-ice cover trend due to a low-pressure system located off the Amundsen Sea coast, offset by a decreasing trend in the Bellingshausen-Amundsen Sea. Models failed to account for the Ross Sea increase, resulting in an overly uniform estimate of Antarctic sea ice loss over the 20th century.


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Authors: Dalaiden, Quentin, Rezsohazy, Jeanne, Goosse, Hugues, Thomas, Elizabeth R. ORCIDORCID record for Elizabeth R. Thomas, Vladimirova, Diana O. ORCIDORCID record for Diana O. Vladimirova, Tetzner, Dieter ORCIDORCID record for Dieter Tetzner

On this site: Diana Vladimirova, Dieter Tetzner, Liz Thomas
16 November, 2023
Geophysical Research Letters / 50
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