The amount of free floating ice in the waters off Antarctica has dropped to historic lows, according to a detailed analysis of over 40 years of satellite data.
The report, released by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre, also shows how the amount of Antarctic sea ice grew significantly over the 40 years to 2014, before the recent steep decline.
“There’s a lot of interannual variability in both Arctic and Antarctic sea ice, but Arctic sea ice has been decreasing in extent since the late 1970s, which is consistent with what we’d expect,” Lead Author Claire Parkinson said.
“What was happening in Antarctica could not be so easily explained.”
The study has tracked sea ice decline from a peak of 12.8 million square kilometres at the beginning of 2014 to only a little over 10 million in 2017.
"It went from its 40-year high in 2014, all the way down in 2017 to its 40-year low," Ms Parkinson said.