Average Arctic Sea Ice Extent in September, 1973 to 1976
These figures show averages of Arctic sea ice extent for four Septembers, from 1973 to 1976. Credit: Don Cavalieri, NASA GSFC
Average Arctic Sea Ice Extent in September, 1999 to 2002
These figures show averages of Arctic sea ice extent for four Septembers, from 1999 to 2002. Credit: Don Cavalieri, NASA GSFC
A 30-year satellite record of sea ice in the two polar regions reveals that while the Northern Hemisphere Arctic ice has melted, Southern Hemisphere Antarctic ice has actually increased in more recent years. However, due to dramatic losses of Antarctic sea ice between 1973 and 1977, sea ice in both hemispheres has shrunk on average when examined over the 30-year time frame.
This study presents the longest continuous record of sea ice for both hemispheres based primarily on satellites, and the longer reading already begins to highlight some new information about sea ice trends over time, like the fact that more recently the Arctic has been losing ice at a faster rate.
"If you compare the rate of loss in the Arctic for the last two decades, it is 20 percent greater than the rate of loss over the last three decades," said Don Cavalieri, lead author of the study, and a senior researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The study appeared in a recent issue of Geophysical Research Letters.
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