The warming Earth has led to a record high in Antarctic sea ice according to the National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Wait, what? Before I jump into how Antarctic sea ice is on the rise while global warming is occurring, let’s look at the data.

Scientists said Antarctic sea ice coverage stands at 7.63 million square miles on Tuesday. That’s above a record high set last September. Antarctic sea ice coverage tends to peak in mid-September as the Southern Hemisphere’s winter wraps up.

Antarctic Ice

2014 is the third straight year of Antarctic sea ice hitting a record maximum. It’s also the first time sea ice coverage has risen above 20 million square kilometers.

ice coverage

On the other side of the planet, sea ice shrank in the Arctic to the sixth lowest level ever. Why the disconnect between the Arctic and Antarctica?

The Antarctic sea ice growth remains a bit of a mystery for scientists. One theory points to an increase in wind speed as causing the increase in ice growth. Several studies have pointed to the southern polar vortex blowing closer to Antarctica. A recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says the models for sea ice trends on the continent are still “incomplete and competing,” though.

So, does this mean global warming is a bunch of bull? Of course not. Water in the Southern Ocean is warming. And, satellite measurements have shown that the Antarctic continent is actually losing ice. While sea ice coverage may be rising, land ice is retreating.

Countries from around the world are gathering next week in New York City to discuss climate change at the United Nations Climate Summit. Two days before the start of the summit, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to hold a ‘People’s Climate March’ in New York City.

You can read more about the planned march here.

Image credit: Andy Mahoney, NSIDC

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