Antartica shock: NASA scientists stunned as stable sea ice shrinks dramatically fast

As the ice melts, the dark ocean surface absorbs 90 percent of the sunlight making global systems warmer. The decrease in the ice not only affects the polar ecosystem but also penguins, whales, seals and additional marine life, CNN reported. Antartica’s sea ice has been steadily increasing while the Arctic suffered but NASA scientist Claire Parkinson it reached a record low in 2017 following 40 years of evidence.

Ms Parkinson said it is too early to explain how trend reversed.

Antartica’s sea ice was previously protected by westerly winds which surround the continent.

Ms Parkinson told CNN: “This means that Antarctic sea ice doesn’t respond directly to global warming averaged over the whole planet, but rather to changes in these winds.

“Climate change is affecting the winds, but so is the ozone hole and short-term cycles like El Nino.

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“The sea ice also responds to the level of ocean mixing, which is affected by meltwater from the Antarctic Ice Sheet.”

Worrying ice losses are rapidly spreading deep into the Antarctic’s interior, the latest satellite data analysis shows.

The West Antarctic ice sheet was stable in 1992 but up to a quarter of its expanse is now thinning.

And more than 320ft (100m) of ice thickness has been lost in the worst-hit places.

The ice sheet’s annihilation would drive global sea levels approximately five metres, decimating coastal cities worldwide.

But Andrew Shepherd, director of the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling at the University of Leeds told CNN: “Growth of Antarctic sea ice over the past few decades had been a relief, because it offsets some of the rapid losses in the Arctic.

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“Now that sea ice is retreating in both hemispheres we should be concerned about our planet’s temperature because it means less of the sun’s heat is reflected back into space.”

However Ms Parkinson added the increase in Antarctic sea ice did not balance the decrease in the Arctic.



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