Sea ice extended over 19.44 million square kilometers (7.51 million square miles) Experts say record is ‘suggestive of changes in atmospheric circulation’ Ice around the South Pole has expanded to cover a record area, scientists revealed yesterday – a month after saying that the North Pole had lost an unprecedented amount of its ice. Researchers say – rather confusingly – that both occurrences are down to the ‘complex and surprising’ effects of global warming. The record Antarctic sea ice cover was revealed in satellite images from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado.
At the end of the southern winter in September, ice covered 7.51million square miles of sea – more than at any time since records began in 979. For the last 30 years the amount of Antarctic sea ice has been increasing by 1 per cent each decade. While the rest of the world has been getting warmer over the last 50 years, large parts of the Eastern Antarctic have been getting cooler. Scientists say a cooler Antarctic fits in with the unpredictable nature of climate change.
Dr Ted Scambos, of the National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado, said: ‘It sounds counterintuitive, but the Antarctic is part of the warming as well.’ Dr Ted Maksym, of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, added: ‘A warming world can have complex and sometimes surprising consequences.’ Unlike the Arctic – which is open sea surrounded by land – the Antarctic is a massive continent surrounded by water. The area of land and the surrounding sea covered by ice peaks each September and retreats to its minimum in February – towards the end of the southern summer.
THE FIRST 3D MAP OF THE ANTARCTIC Scientists have produced the first three dimensional map of the surface beneath Antarctic sea ice, helping them better understand the impact of climate change on Antarctica. The team of scientists from eight countries have used a robot submarine to chart a frozen and inverted world of mountains and valleys, allowing accurate measurements of the crucial thickness of Antarctic sea ice. By combining the data with airborne measures of surface ice and snow, scientists can now accurately measure changes in ice thickness and better understand the affects of global warming.