Antarctic Sea Ice Hit 35-Year Record High Saturday

Antarctic sea ice has grown to a record large extent for a second straight year, baffling scientists seeking to understand why this ice is expanding rather than shrinking in a warming world.

On Saturday, the ice extent reached 19.51 million square kilometers, according to data posted on the National Snow and Ice Data Center Web site. That number bested record high levels set earlier this month and in 2012 (of 19.48 million square kilometers). Records date back to October 1978.

The increasing ice is especially perplexing since the water beneath the ice has warmed, not cooled.

“The overwhelming evidence is that the Southern Ocean is warming,” said Jinlun Zhang, a University of Washington scientist, studying Antarctic ice. “Why would sea ice be increasing? Although the rate of increase is small, it is a puzzle to scientists.”

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