Antarctica's sea ice crushed a new record this month for the solid third year in a row. But while the Southern Hemisphere seas show record-breaking ice growth, scientists are left worrying about the impact of global warming on the melting Arctic ice.
The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) reports that winds and frosty air froze ocean water into 7.6 million square miles (19.7 million square kilometers) of the Antarctic sea ice this winter. Antarctica's ice setting sea could break 2013 records at its current rate, with several more weeks of growth to go.
According to data that was gathered from satellite readings by Phil Reid at the Centre for Australian Climate and Weather Research, this is the first time the sea ice level could surpass over 7.7 million square miles (20 million square kilometers) in history.
"The raise in Antarctic sea ice level may seem contradictory set modifications in the universal climate, although it's not as we think about several other causes at play," says Jan Leiser, of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre in Hobart.
The increase in southern ice was linked to intensified wind pace and increased fresh water from land ice in Antarctica.
But while Antarctica's ice continues to grow, ice in the Arctic sea continues to melt. The NSIDC reports that the Arctic ice cap hit 1.96 million square miles (5.07 million square kilometers) on Sept. 15, mirroring last year's low of 1.97 million square miles (5.1 million square kilometers.) It was the sixth-lowest level on record since satellite tracking began in 1979.
"In the short term, it seems like there hasn't been much ice loss in the past couple of years, but I think it's still very much within the long-term trend of declining sea ice," says Axel Schweiger, chairman of the University of Washington's Polar Science Center in Seattle. "One shouldn't necessarily expect every year to be a record low."
At both poles, sea ice shrinks and expands with the summer heat and winter cold, but in the Arctic, ice remains solid throughout the year. The ice leftover from last year helped prevent an even more extreme melt of the Arctic ice since the multiyear ice is thicker and takes more time to melt in the heat than the younger, thinner ice. "The ice does appear to be quite a bit thicker this year," Schweiger says.
Experts blame the expansion of Antarctica's sea ice and the Arctic's warming, which is occurring twice as fast as the rest of the world, on global warming. It is more apparent that climate change is having an extremely dramatic impact in the Arctic.