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Feds: Ice hits November lows at both poles

Warm air, water, unusual wind patterns cited.

Reports of shrinking Arctic snow-and-ice cover have become matter of routine, but what is different about the latest update from the National Snow and Ice Data Center  is what's happened at the other end of the planet.

Citing air temperatures 4 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit above normal and an earlier than usual pattern of strong winds from the west, the center said Tuesday that Antarctic ice coverage  had reached a record low level for a November in the 38-year period of record.

In the Arctic, ice growth last month was a "bit" faster than usual, but November ice coverage up that way still reached a new low for November.

Temperatures at the North Pole were radically above normal, the center said, as an unusual jet-stream winds generated warming winds from the south. In addition, water temperatures were quite high.

"It looks like a triple whammy—a warm ocean, a warm atmosphere, and a wind pattern all working against the ice in the Arctic," NSIDC director Mark Serreze said in the news release accompanying the report.

This time around, the center said, the Antarctic was the more interesting show on ice.

"The Arctic has typically been where the most interest lies," said scientist Walt Meier, " but this month, the Antarctic has flipped the script."