Watch how polar ice caps changed in a year!

Scientists have released an animation which shows how much the polar ice caps have changed in the past year amid reports that ice levels are at an all-time low.

The European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) cited a report that said the low level of floating sea ice in the Arctic was due to global warming and unusual weather events.

It also states that the low in sea ice in Antarctica was down to natural variability.

Ice collapses into the sea in the Arctic
Thomas Lavergne, of the Ocean and Sea Ice Satellite Application Facility, said: “There are two ways in which sea ice can disappear: either it melts due to higher temperatures (thermodynamic processes) or it is pushed away or compacted by the wind (dynamic processes).

“Undoubtedly, this year brought warmer temperatures to these regions, however there were also noticeable weather events that had an effect on the shape of sea ice in the Arctic, and that can be easily identified in the animation.”

The area covered by floating sea ice is now the smallest recorded since satellite monitoring began in the 1970s, the New Scientist reported.

The level of sea ice in the Arctic is thought to be at its lowest for thousands of years
It said that Arctic sea ice should be growing rapidly during the winter in the northern hemisphere, but that repeated incursions of warm air had pushed temperatures so high on occasions that sea ice had actually temporarily shrunk.

Meteorologist Eric Holthaus told the New Scientist that reconstructions of past levels of sea ice in the Arctic suggest it is at its lowest level for thousands of years.