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New visualizations highlight new information on the contrasting Arctic and Antarctic sea-ice trends since the late 1970s

Parkinson, Claire L., DiGirolamo, Nicolo E.
Remote sensing of environment 2016 v.183 pp. 198-204
data collection, ice, remote sensing, Antarctic region, Arctic region
Month-by-month ranking of 37years (1979–2015) of satellite-derived sea-ice extents in the Arctic and Antarctic reveals interesting new details in the overall trends toward decreasing sea-ice coverage in the Arctic and increasing sea-ice coverage in the Antarctic. The Arctic decreases are so definitive that there has not been a monthly record high in Arctic sea-ice extents in any month since 1986, a time period during which there have been 75 monthly record lows. The Antarctic, with the opposite but weaker trend toward increased ice extents, experienced monthly record lows in 5months of 1986, then 6 later monthly record lows scattered through the dataset, with the last two occurring in 2006, versus 45 record highs since 1986. However, in the last three years of the 1979–2015 dataset, the downward trends in Arctic sea-ice extents eased up, with no new record lows in any month of 2013 or 2014 and only one record low in 2015, while the upward trends in Antarctic ice extents notably strengthened, with new record high ice extents in 4months (August–November) of 2013, in 6months (April–September) of 2014, and in 3months (January, April, and May) of 2015. Globally, there have been only 3 monthly record highs since 1986 (only one since 1988), whereas there have been 43 record lows, although the last record lows (in the 1979–2015 dataset) occurred in 2012.