Sea ice in the Arctic and the Antarctic has reduced to a record low levels since 1979, a new NASA report has found. “It looks like, since the beginning of October, that for the first time we are seeing both the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice running at record low levels,” said Walt Meier, researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre which tracked sea ice data since 1979.
Although record low sea ice is not new for the Arctic, it is a surprising event for the Antarctic. Even as sea ice in the Arctic has seen a rapid and consistent decline over the past decade, Antarctic on the other hand has seen its extent increasing. From 2012 through 2014, each year it has reached a record high for its sea ice extent.
It is too early to know if the recent, rapid decline in Antarctic sea ice is going to be a regular occurrence like in
the Arctic, researchers said. However it “certainly puts the kibosh on everyone saying that Antarctica’s ice is just going up and up,” Meier told the CNN.
This sea ice decline has been a key indicator that climate change is happening, but especially in the Arctic, its loss can mean major changes for your weather too. Temperatures in the Arctic have soared recently, and scientists are struggling to explain exactly why, and what will be consequences for this.
Air temperatures have been running more than 20 degrees Celsius above average. To make matters worse, the water temperatures in the Arctic Ocean are several degrees above average, which is an expected result of having less sea ice.