Sea ice cover in Antarctica has dropped to its second-lowest on record, Australian authorities said Friday, adding that it was not yet clear what was driving the reduction after several years of record-highs.
The report came as scientists said earlier this week that the Arctic region was seeing record high temperatures, with sea ice covering the smallest area in winter since records began more than half-a-century ago.
The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) said the latest satellite data showed a total 2.15 million square kilometres (830,120 square miles) surrounding the icy continent during the lowest point in February during the summer season.
The minimum record was set in March last year, when a summertime reading of 2.07 million square kilometres was recorded, the AAD, which manages Australia's Antarctic programme, said.
Last year also saw near record-lows for the wintertime maximum sea ice cover, at 18.05 million square kilometres.