In polar regions the ice level increases in winter and decreases in summer. Losing that much in just three years "is pretty incredible" and faster than anything scientists have seen before, said study author Claire Parkinson, a NASA climate scientist.
"But the fact that a change this big can happen in such a short time should be viewed as an indication that the Earth has the potential for significant and rapid change", University of Colorado ice scientist Waleed Abdalati said in an email. In 2014, in Antarctica, it reached a maximum value: 12.8 million square kilometers. Ice in the ocean off the southern continent steadily increased from 1979 and hit a record high in 2014.
Antarctica has lost as much sea ice in roughly four years as the Arctic did in over 30 years, according to a study published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
What it means: At this stage, scientists can't say with certainty why it took so long for Antarctic sea ice to begin receding, or why the loss accelerated so rapidly.
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Sea ice around Antarctica has shrunk to record low levels over the past few years, a new study suggests, following decades of expansion.
The Arctic has shown a melting trend for decades, so consistent and dramatic that it's now a symbol of climate change. Another satellite research uncovers that somewhere around 2014 and 2017 ocean ice degree in the southern half of the globe endured uncommon yearly abatements, leaving the zone secured via ocean ice at its absolute bottom in the span of 40 years. That is probably in part due to geography, Parkinson and Serreze said.
Antarctica, a continent surrounded by oceans, where icebergs are less constrained than in the Arctic, is the coldest place on Earth as well as its largest source of freshwater.
Feedback loop: Since sea ice is already displacing water, its loss doesn't directly raise sea levels almost as much as the melting of land-based ice sheets does.
Scientists believe changing wind patterns, changes in ocean circulation, or the El Nino effect could be to blame, but there is no consensus.