ARCTIC sea ice has INCREASED in volume by as much as a third in recent years despite warnings that it is melting away, according to a new study.
Scientists observed 33 per cent more ice than the average in 2013, and 25 per cent more the year after.
Climate change experts have long documented the rapid decline in the polar ice caps and subsequent rise in sea levels.
Researchers say the latest figures suggest some of those losses may have been offset.
But they added that 2013 was a one-off and that climate change will continue to shrink the ice in the years ahead.
"The events of 2013 will have simply wound the clock back a few years on the long-term pattern of decline," the study's co-author Andy Shepherd, Professor of Earth Observation at UCL and Leeds University, said.
The findings, which appear in the journal Nature Geoscience, suggest limiting carbon emissions could have an even greater effect on the planet than previously expected, as the Arctic appears to respond quickly to slight environmental changes.
Increases in sea ice volume after just one cool summer suggests Arctic sea ice may be more resilient than previously thought, researchers say.
Researchers used 88 million measurements of sea ice thickness recorded by the European Space Agency's CryoSat-2 mission between 2010 and 2014.
They found that in 2013, there was a 5 per cent drop in the number of days on which melting occurred - leading scientists to compare the current conditions to those of the 1990s - when average global temperatures were lower and ice melted at a slower rate.
Lead author Rachel Tilling, a PhD student from the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling at UCL, said the results would be key to accurately predicting the region's prospects.
Ms Tilling said: "The summer of 2013 was much cooler than recent years with temperatures typical of those seen in the late 1990s.
"This allowed thick sea ice to persist northwest of Greenland because there were fewer days when it could melt.
"Although models have suggested that the volume of Arctic sea ice is in long term decline, we know now that it can recover by a significant amount if the melting season is cut short."
The findings are in stark contrast with internationally-recognised research on the effects of climate change on the planet.
In 2012, Arctic summer sea ice shrank to its lowest level on record, and it is said to be declining by 13 per cent each decade.
And ice loss on the frozen landmass of Greenland doubled between 1996 and 2005.
Sea levels have risen by seven inches in the last 100 years and nine of the ten warmest summers on record have been since 2000.
Prof Shepherd said: "Understanding what controls the amount of Arctic sea ice takes us one step closer to making reliable predictions of how long it will last, which is important because it is a key component of Earth's climate system.
"Although the jump in volume means that the region is unlikely to be ice free this summer, we still expect temperatures to rise in the future.
"Our goal is to make sure we do not lose this unique capability to monitor Arctic sea ice when the mission ends."