Heroes of Antarctic exploration have played a crucial role in research that suggests the area of sea ice around the Antarctic has barely changed in size. Ice observations recorded in the ships’ logbooks of explorers such as Captain Robert Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton have been used to compare where the Antarctic ice edge was during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration (1897-1917) and where satellites show it is today.
The study, by climate scientists at the University of Reading, suggests that Antarctic sea ice is much less sensitive to the effects of climate change than that of the Arctic, which in stark contrast has experienced a dramatic decline during the 20th century.
The research estimates the extent of Antarctic summer sea ice is at most 14% smaller now than during the early 1900s.
Furthermore the new study is the first to shed light on sea ice extent in the period prior to the 1930s, and suggests the levels in the early 1900s were in fact similar to today, at between 5.3 and 7.4 million square kilometres. Although one region, the Weddell Sea, did have a significantly larger ice cover.
Source: University of Reading