The North and South Poles are both experiencing the lowest levels of sea ice since in recorded history.
Currently, the North Pole is over 36 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than average for this time of year — with the entire Arctic region 13 degrees hotter than normal. The area is also experiencing a record low in sea ice, beating the previous all-time low in 2012.
“The Arctic warmth is the result of a combination of record-low sea-ice extent for this time of year, probably very thin ice, and plenty of warm/moist air from lower latitudes being driven northward by a very wavy jet stream,” Jennifer Francis, an Arctic specialist from Rutgers University, told the Washington Post. “The extreme behavior of the Arctic in 2016 seems to be in no hurry to quit.”
Meanwhile, the South Pole is not faring any better. Antarctica experienced a boost in sea ice for three years in a row, reaching an all time high in 2014 — before falling back to the average levels the next year.
This year however, Antarctica is experiencing a record low in sea ice along with the North Pole.
“Antarctica is heading into austral summer, a period of rapid sea ice melt in the Southern Ocean. But this year the sea ice loss has been particularly swift and the Antarctic sea ice extent is currently at the lowest level for this time of year ever recorded in the satellite record, which began in 1979,” NASA said in a statement.
It appears that this is the first time in recorded history that both Poles experienced record lows during this time of year.
“It looks like, since the beginning of October, that for the first time we are seeing both the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice running at record low levels,” Walt Meier, a research scientist with the Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, who has been tracking sea ice data going back to 1979 told CNN.
The Arctic region has a significant impact on weather on the rest of the planet. Any changes in the South Pole region could impact the intensity and frequency of winter storms in North America, Europe, and Asia.
“What happens in the Arctic DOES NOT stay in the Arctic,” Meier said.