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Sea Ice in Both Arctic and Antarctic Sea Reaches All Time Low, Scientists Shocked

Dec 07, 2016 08:52 AM EST
NSIDC Record Lowest Sea Ice Levels Pole to Pole
Both the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice levels are at the lowest for the month of November according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).
(Photo : Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) has officially confirmed that the Arctic and Antarctic sea have reached the lowest level in sea ice. The cause is reportedly moderately warm temperatures along with a rapid shift in circumpolar winds.

"It looks like a triple whammy-a warm ocean, a warm atmosphere, and a wind pattern all working against the ice in the Arctic," stated NSIDC director Mark Serreze. To which NSIDC lead scientist Ted Scambos added, "Antarctic sea ice really went down the rabbit hole this time. There are a few things we can say about what happened, but we need to look deeper."

For the month of November, the Arctic sea ice extent averaged 9.08 million square kilometers, which is 1.95 million square kilometers below the recorded 1981 to 2010 long-term average for the said month. The decrease in sea ice was mostly recorded in the Arctic Ocean north of Norway, Eastern Russia, and Barents Sea.

This is the seventh month of the year for the Arctic sea ice to reach a record low. Such record is said to be larger by 3.2 standard deviations which was observed in September of 2012. As for the Antarctic Sea, the southern hemisphere continent has declined quickly for the month of November and has also reached a record low.

"The Arctic has typically been where the most interest lies, but this month, the Antarctic has flipped the script and it is southern sea ice that is surprising us," stated Walt Meier, NASA scientist and NSIDC affiliate scientist.

Following the sea ice slump in the Arctic for the month of November, warming temperatures are also causing problems for indigenous communities. Even wildlife is being affected such as walruses and polar bears.

The loss of sea ice amplifies global warming and the possible flooding of the world's major cities. For now, all NSIDC and NASA researchers can do is observe and record these rising and decreasing sea ice levels.

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