Sea ice in the Antarctic region fell to a record low this year as a result of rising global temperatures and there is no quick fix to reverse the damage done, according to a new study.
The continent’s minimum summer ice cover – which last year dipped below 2 million square kilometres (772,000 square miles) for the first time since satellite monitoring began in 1978 – fell further to a new low in February.
“It’s going to take decades if not centuries for these things to recover. There’s no quick fix to replacing this ice,” said Caroline Holmes, polar climate scientist at the British Antarctic Survey and one of the study’s co-authors.
“It will certainly take a long time, even if it’s possible,” she said at a briefing with journalists.
This year’s sea ice minimum is 20 percent lower than the average over the last 40 years, equivalent to a sea ice loss nearly 10 times the area of New Zealand.