Antarctic sea ice is increasing

Louise Gray – Nov 11, 2012

Arctic summer sea ice reached a minimum 3.41 million sq km this year, around 50 per cent lower than the 1979-200 average.

However a study by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and NASA found sea ice in the Anatarctic has been increasing over the same period.

The study, published in Nature Geoscience, shows for the first time how winds in the Antarctic cause the change in sea ice cover.

Dr Paul Holland of BAS explained that there have been huge increases and decreases in sea ice in certain areas over the last 30 years.

Overall there has been a gain, although it is very slight one of about 0.001 per cent, to a record 19 million sq km.

“Overall sea ice cover in Antarctica is increasing but very slowy. It is about a fifth of the overall decrease in the Arctic.”

Scientists are now investigating the cause of the changes in sea ice in the South Pole.

Dr Holland pointed out sea ice loss has no effect on the sea rise as there is no change in mass, it is just frozen water melting, like ice in a glass of water.

However glacial ice, that is on land and will cause sea level rise, is decreasing in the Antarctic.

“It is important to distinguish between the Antarctic Ice Sheet – glacial ice – which is losing volume, and Antarctic sea ice – frozen seawater – which is expanding, ” said Dr Holland.


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