Global sea ice levels are at their lowest in recorded history, according to new statistics from the U.S. National Snow & Ice Data Center.
In the Arctic, the loss is due to climate change and extreme weather events that are likely influenced by global warming, while the changes in the Antarctic may be attributed to natural variability, the center said.
But as a result of the declines in both regions, the total loss of ice is likely at the lowest it's been for thousands of years, said meteorologist Eric Holthaus.
It's "probably the lowest in millenia," he tweeted.
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Environmental and social justice writer Robert Scribbler noted that global sea ice "fell off a cliff" in December 2016—or, as 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben put it, 2016 was the year "global sea ice fell off the table."
"The human world has never experienced a time when global sea ice was so weak and reduced," Scribbler wrote.
That's important because, as Common Dreams has reported, sea ice loss is linked to extreme weather and rising waters, while fewer glaciers mean a darker surface of the Earth—which in turn increases absorption of the sun's energy, further fueling climate change.
Climate scientists warned last year that Arctic ice is at risk of disappearing for the first time in more than 100,000 years.