Holy sea ice extent Batman!

Tabular icebergs in the sea ice of Ross Sea

Tabular icebergs in the sea ice of Ross Sea

Satellite images showed that this winter’s sea ice extent around Antarctica (Sept 12, 2014: remember the seasons are reversed for the southern hemisphere) was the greatest ever seen since the beginning of monitoring this seasonal phenomenon back in the late 1970s.  Perhaps you’ve heard this before because the last three years were record-breakers as well.  Scientists relate the growing sea ice extent to climate change – the ozone hole over Antarctica causes the winds to change in that part of the world, and the wind, in part, controls sea ice extent.  There are areas around Antarctica that are so windy that any sea ice that forms is soon blown away from the coast and out to sea.  These ‘sea ice factories’ or polynyas are important for whales, seals, and penguins for accessing the air from the ocean and also for sending fresh water out into ocean circulation.

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