Satellite passive microwave data show a record decrease in sea ice extent in the Bellingshausen Sea from mid-1988 through early 1991. The change coincides with more southerly surface winds, increased cyclonic activity and rising surface air temperatures, which reached historic highs along the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula in 1989. Preceded by high ice cover in 1986-87, the retreat was most evident during summer in the formerly perennial sea-ice field over the continental shelf. Ocean heat storage probably contributed to the persistence and coastal propagation of this anomaly.
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