Sea ice at record lows at poles: Report

Washington, Nov 19 (IANS) Sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic are at record lows this time of year, the first time since scientists began keeping track, a report revealed.

“It looks like, since the beginning of October, that for the first time we are seeing both the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice running at record low levels,” said Walt Meier, a research scientist with the Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, who has tracked sea ice data going back to 1979, in the report on Friday.

While record low sea ice is nothing new in the Arctic, this was a surprising turn of events for the Antarctic, the report said.

Even as sea ice in the Arctic has seen a rapid and consistent decline over the past decade, its counterpart in the Southern Hemisphere has seen its extent increasing, CNN reported.

While it is too early to know if the recent, rapid decline in Antarctic sea ice is going to be a regular occurrence like in the Arctic, it “certainly puts the kibosh on everyone saying that Antarctica’s ice is just going up and up,” Meier said.

Temperatures in the Arctic have soared recently, and scientists are struggling to explain exactly why, and what the consequences will be.

Air temperatures have been running more than 20 degrees Celsius above average.

The water temperatures in the Arctic Ocean were also several degrees above average, which is an expected result of having less sea ice, CNN said.