Increasing Sea Ice around Antarctica

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Claire Parkinson of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center analyzed the length of the sea ice season throughout the Southern Ocean to obtain trends in sea ice coverage. Parkinson examined 21 years (1979-1999) of Antarctic sea ice satellite records and discovered that, on average, the area where southern sea ice seasons have lengthened by at least one day per year is roughly twice as large as the area where sea ice seasons have shortened by at least one day per year. One day per year equals three weeks over the 21-year period.

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While recent studies have shown that on the whole Arctic sea ice has decreased since the late 1970s, satellite records of sea ice around Antarctica reveal an overall increase in the southern hemisphere ice over the same period. Continued decreases or increases could have substantial impacts on polar climates. Images courtesy Claire Parkinson (Lab for Hydrospheric Processes, NASA GSFC).