Images and video footage captured by National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center show the growth of Antarctic sea ice. It went from its annual minimum to its likely peak level for the year of 7.27 million square miles on 6 October.
Over the last 37 years, NASA has been making an annual measurement using satellite technology. This year's maximum sea ice extent is both the 22nd lowest and 16th highest. The last three years have represented record highs. This year's ice levels are "quite a bit smaller", according to NASA. In fact, this year's ice level is the lowest since 2008.
"After three record high extent years, this year marks a return toward normalcy for Antarctic sea ice," said Walt Meier, a sea ice scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "There may be more high years in the future because of the large year-to-year variation in Antarctic extent, but such extremes are not near as substantial as in the Arctic, where the declining trend towards a new normal is continuing."
The growth of Antartic sea ice was erractic this year. The sea ice was much higher than normal levels throughout much of the first half of 2015 until it flattened in mid-July. In mid-August it even went below normal levels. The sea ice cover may have recovered partially in September but this year's maximum extent is still 1.33 million square kilometers below the record maximum extent, which was set last year. This year's strong El Nino had an impact on the behavior of the sea ice cover around Antarctica.
Here's a detailed explainer on the issue from last year:
-- With ANI inputs