Impact of sea ice changes on weather patterns


WPSD Weather

Sea ice across both the Arctic and Antarctic go through a yearly life cycle of growing and shrinking with the seasons. During each hemisphere's summer, warming and 24-hour-a-day sunshine melts ice in the polar regions. Then when the sun angle and temperatures start to drop, the winter re-freeze begins.

Arctic sea ice is shrinking by 13.7% every ten years and hit its lowest sea ice extent this past september. The Arctic is water surrounded by land. Ice piles up against each other and forms ice thick enough to last multiple years. However, the rate of Arctic ice melt is thinning this multi-year ice and contributing to a rapid melting cycle.

Antarctic sea ice is actually growing by 1.1% every 10 years and tied its record highest extent this past September. Opposite to the Arctic, the Antarctic is land surrounded by water. That means that any ice that forms can spread far and wide by winds. It is also very thin and melts nearly every summer.

Research is still ongoing for scienctists studying sea ice but their evidence has suggested that a warmer Arctic lessens the temperature difference between the poles and equator, slowing down the jetstream and allowing it to become more amplified...possibly leading to more extreme weather.