Antarctic sea ice at lowest levels ever
The ice surrounding Antarctica is at its lowest levels ever. Satellite data show that, currently, the ice sheet surrounding the planet's southernmost continent is below any winter level previously recorded.
"It's so far from anything we've seen, it blows your mind," says Walter Meier, who monitors sea ice with the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
An Antarctica, this change in ice level could have major consequences, experts warn.
Antarctica's vast ice sheet regulates the planet's temperature, as the white surface reflects the Sun's energy into the atmosphere and also cools the water below and near it.
Without its ice cooling the planet, Antarctica could turn from Earth's refrigerator into a radiator, experts say.
Dr. Meier is not optimistic that the sea ice will recover to any significant degree.