Scientists have confirmed that the extent in which Antarctic sea ice cover has reached is the highest since records began, as they announced earlier this week that Arctic sea ice had shrunk to its sixth lowest level ever.
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Satellite imagery has revealed a 20 million square kilometre area covered by sea ice surrounding the Antarctic continent, with expectations that the extent of sea ice could have set a new record.
“Antarctic sea ice is poised to set a record maximum this year, now at 19.7 million sq km (7.6m sq m) and continuing to increase,” said the National Snow and Ice Data Centre in a statement.
Sea ice cover in the Arctic is subject to a long-term decline as climate change takes hold and temperatures rise more rapidly in the Arctic than anywhere else on the planet.
Jan Lieser, from the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, talking to ABC Australia, said, “This is an area covered by sea ice which we’ve never seen from space before.
“Thirty-five years ago the first satellites went up which were reliably telling us what area, two dimensional area, of sea ice was covered and we’ve never seen that before, that much area.”
As the Antarctic increases, sea ice in the Arctic is on the decrease, a phenomenon caused by changing polar winds, according to scientists involved in the report.
At 5.09m sq km, Arctic sea ice is at its sixth lowest on record, a decline since last year but not as bad as levels in 2012 when it fell below 3.5 million square kilometres.
The centre did however note that there had been a strong decline in sea ice within the Laptev Sea due to a rise in sea temperatures by 5C, for reasons unknown.
Photo source: NASA Earth Observatory via Flickr
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