According to scientists there’s more ice at South Pole than ever. This comes two weeks after a new record was set in the Arctic Ocean for the least amount of sea ice coverage in the satellite record, the ice surrounding Antarctica reached its annual winter maximum—and set a record for a new high.
Sea ice extended over 19.44 million square kilometers (7.51 million square miles) in 2012, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). The previous record of 19.39 million kilometers (7.49 million square miles) was set in 2006.
The map above shows sea ice extent around Antarctica on September 26, 2012, when ice covered more of the Southern Ocean than at any other time in the satellite record. The map is based on an NSIDC analysis of data from the Special Sensor Microwave/Imagers flown in the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. Land is dark gray, and ice shelves—which are attached to land-based glaciers but floating on the ocean—are light gray. The yellow outline shows the median sea ice extent in September from 1979 to 2000. Sea ice extent is defined as the total area in which the ice concentration is at least 15 percent.
The graph of NSIDC data shows the maximum extent for each September since 1979 in millions of square kilometers. There is a lot of variability from year to year, though the overall trend shows growth of about 0.9 percent per decade.
According to a recent study by sea ice scientists Claire Parkinson and Donald Cavalieri of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Antarctic sea ice increased by roughly 17,100 square kilometers per year from 1979 to 2010. Much of the increase, they note, occurred in the Ross Sea, with smaller increases in Weddell Sea and Indian Ocean. At the same time, the Bellinghausen and Amundsen Seas have lost ice. “The strong pattern of decreasing ice coverage in the Bellingshausen/Amundsen Seas region and increasing ice coverage in the Ross Sea region is suggestive of changes in atmospheric circulation,” they noted.
NASA Earth Observatory images by Jesse Allen, using DMPS SSMIS ice concentration data provided courtesy of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Caption by Michael Carlowicz
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