Sea ice in the artic has shrunk by about 39 percent over the past 38 years, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)
. Ice in Antarctica has shrunk by 6.2 percent over that same timeframe. The NSIDC is part of the University of Colorado's Institute of Environmental Research in Boulder (CIRES) and co-operates with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
According to climate experts, the Arctic warms faster than the rest of the world. Warming rates in the Arctic are double what they are elsewhere in the world. Since 2009, Antarctica has lost nearly 252 billion tons of ice per year. By comparison, between 1979 and 1990 the continent had shed 40 billion tons of ice per year. Antarctica lies beneath an average of 1.3 miles of ice, which represents 90 percent of all the world’s ice. The continent is 5.4 million square miles, which is just under double the size of the lower 48 standing at 3.1 million square miles.
A recent study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) recently shows that over the past decade, the rate of Antarctic sea ice shrinkage has quickened. Scientists still believe that it is too early to attribute this to climate change as the trend is so new, though it does bring up concerns about rising sea levels, the opening of new trade and shipping routes
, and expanding oil drilling, all of which are geopolitical and diplomatic issues.