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Antarctic Sea Ice Hits All Time Low

Feb 20, 2017 10:31 AM EST
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Sea ice around Antarctica has shrunk to the smallest annual extent on record, the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) revealed.

According to their data, sea ice extent contracted to 2.287 million square kilometers (883,015 square miles) on Feb. 13. The number is the smallest they have on their satellite records since they started recording in 1979.

Futurism reports that sea ice usually melts during the southern hemisphere's summer, which is at the end part of February. It is supposed to expand again when autumn comes. However, the rapid melting has led people to believe that the end is happening.

"Unless something funny happens, we're looking at a record minimum in Antarctica," NSIDC director Mark Serreze told Reuters. "Some people say it's already happened... We tend to be conservative by looking at five-day running averages."

Read: Uh-Oh! There's a Gigantic Iceberg About to Break Off From the Antarctic

In many recent years, the average extent of sea ice around Antarctica has tended to expand despite the overall trend of global warming.

British Antarctic Survey climate scientist Dr. James Pope said in a statement that while the ice melt is "significant," further observation in the next couple of years should still be conducted to determine if this is a trend or just a single event. 

"We will now study the data with interest and look at what is causing this minimum," Pope added.

Just last week, Antarctica had another major iceberg break. It happened in the erratic Pine Island Glacier. The dramatic event was captured by NASA satellites. The chunk of ice has that broken off is about one mile long. Glaciers in Antarctica are eroding and calving due to the warm ocean water beneath them.

As mentioned by Live Science, if ocean warming will continue for the next years and climate change will be left unresolved, West Antarctic Ice Sheet could collapse within the next 100 years.

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