Asked by: Rick Wright, Durham
Antarctic sea ice undergoes an annual cycle of freezing and melting, reaching its maximum extent in October and then melting.
In the past few decades, the maximum amount of Antarctic sea ice has increased slightly, but on land it’s a different story. While a few areas of the frozen continent’s gigantic ice sheet have been growing, overall Antarctica is losing ice, with glaciers in West Antarctica undergoing the most rapid melting. Ice shelves fringing the Antarctic land mass, where land ice meets the ocean, are also shrinking.
As global temperatures increase, scientists expect to see further melting, contributing to global sea level rise.