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Alaska Beat

Antarctic sea ice growth explained

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published November 13, 2012

While sea ice in the Arctic shrinks at a rapid pace, sea ice surrounding Antarctica has seen a small increase, the UK's The Guardian reports.

Data from US military satellites confirm that shifting wind patterns around the South Pole have resulted in cold winds blowing ice away from the Antarctica's coast. As the sea ice blows into the ocean, water is left in its stead, which also freezes, creating more ice that blows out to sea.

This mechanism for creating sea ice is not possible in the Arctic, Paul Holland at the British Antarctic Survey explained. If sea ice were to be blown away from the Arctic, it would quickly reach the bordering continents. In Antarctica, a continent surrounded by an ocean, there are no barriers to ice being wind-swept into the sea.

However, these gains in sea ice do not make up for the losses at the opposite pole.

"The Arctic is losing sea ice five times faster than the Antarctic is gaining it, so, on average, the Earth is losing sea ice very quickly. There is no inconsistency between our results and global warming." Holland told the Guardian.

Arctic sea ice levels saw record losses in the summer of 2012. Even after rebounding at a rapid pace during October, the levels remain near record lows.

Read more about sea ice in Antarctica, here.

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