The upward trend in the Antarctic, however, is only about a third of the magnitude of the rapid loss of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. The new Antarctic sea ice record reflects the diversity and complexity of the Earth's environment, said NASA researchers.

"The planet as a whole is doing what was expected in terms of warming. Sea ice as a whole is decreasing as expected, but just like with global warming, not every location with sea ice will have a downward trend in ice extent," explained Claire Parkinson, senior scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland.

Since the late 1970s, the Arctic has lost an average of 53,900 square km of ice a year while the Antarctic has gained an average of 18,900 square km. Scientists are trying to understand the reasons for the increase in the Antarctic ice cover. They believe that a combination of factors is responsible including changing wind patterns, snowfall, air pressure changes and even the hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica. However, experts are still trying to understand the factors behind it and there is no consensus yet about the exact causes.

 

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