Antarctic sea ice had been growing in area since 1979, despite the influence of global warming. Then unexpectedly in the austral spring of 2016, there was a rapid decline.

A range of studies had suggested this was caused by remote influences that stemmed from the tropical Indian and Pacific Oceans.

CLEX researchers used multiple runs of a coupled ocean-atmosphere climate model to investigate whether these distant influences played a role and, if so, the level of the contribution to the sea-ice decline.

The results of the research suggest that the tropical Indian Ocean played a greater role than the Pacific Ocean. However, there was a significant variation in the magnitude of the sea ice area anomalies between the runs. This variation suggests that intrinsic variability and ocean conditions also contributed to the unexpected Antarctic sea ice behaviour.