Over the past several decades, Earth’s polar ice caps have gained significant attention because of the alarming decrease in land and sea ice. NASA reports that since the late 1970s, the Arctic has lost an average of 20,800 square miles (53,900 square kilometers) of sea ice per year while the Antarctic has gained an average of 7,300 square miles (18,900 km2) of sea ice per year. At the same time, the Arctic has been losing around 50 cubic kilometers (gigatons) of land ice per year, almost entirely from Greenland’s 2. 6 million gigaton sheet. On 19 September 2014, for the first time since 1979, Antarctic sea ice extent exceeded 7. 72 million square miles (20 million square kilometers), according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The ice extent stayed above this benchmark extent for several days. The average maximum extent between 1981 and 2010 was 7. 23 million square miles (18. 72 million square kilometers). The single-day maximum extent in 2014 was reached on 20 Sep, according to NSIDC data, when the sea ice covered 7. 78 million square miles (20. 14 million square kilometers). The 2014 five-day average maximum was reached on 22 Sep, when sea ice covered 7. 76 million square miles (20. 11 million square kilometers), according to NSIDC.