Antarctic Sea Ice Chalks Another Record Despite Record Temperatures

00Sea ice anomaly antarctica

Satellite data collated by the University of Illinois Polar Research Group and released on 29 June shows a record sea ice extent anomaly in the Antarctic – some 2.074m sq. km. above the long term average measured between 1981 and 2010. Courtesy: University of Illinois.

Antarctic sea ice extent has set a new record as computer forecasts predict that Arctic sea ice extent will be above average this Summer even though global surface temperatures are at record levels.

Sea ice extent in the Antarctic reached a record level for June with an anomaly – the variation from the long term average – of some 2.074 million square kilometers, according to data collated by the University of Illinois Polar Research Group.

Meanwhile, computer forecasts for the extent of Arctic sea ice that are produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the US show that the variation, or anomaly, in Arctic sea ice extent is expected to be above average for the three months from August this year for the first time in nearly 20 years. Remember that climate campaigner and former US vice president Al Gore famously predicted Arctic summer sea ice would be gone by now.

00sea ice nsidc

NSIDC data shows the sea ice growth in the Antarctic is real and statistically significant. Courtesy: NSIDC.

This comes a week after NOAA followed fellow US agency the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in reporting that May 2014 was the hottest May ever recorded and just a month after new research hit the headlines saying that the rate of decline in Antarctic land ice – as opposed to sea ice – was at record levels.

Despite this record global warmth, the extent of sea ice around the Antarctic has been growing steadily since satellite monitoring began in the late 1970s; throughout the period of global warming. The mystery of increasing Antarctic sea ice during an era of record high global surface temperatures has puzzled climate scientists.

Be clear about one thing: the growth of Antarctic sea ice is real and, more importantly, the record anomaly reported yesterday is statistically significant as the latest data published by the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) shows: that sea ice extent in June is more than two standard deviations above the long term average for the period from 1981 to 2010.

The IPCC does not know

There are some suggestions from computer model research and evidence from satellite tracking of ice that Antarctic sea ice growth in recent years may be due to wind intensification and ocean circulation changes. But this explanation is far from proven and it is clear that climate scientists can not completely explain what is happening in the Antarctic as the IPCC admitted in its latest scientific report published in September when it stated that there is “low confidence in the scientific understanding of the observed increase in Antarctic sea ice extent since 1979”. The IPCC explained that “the shortness of the observed record and differences in simulated and observed variability preclude an assessment of whether or not the observed increase since 1979 is inconsistent with internal variability”. In simple terms: the IPCC does not know.

00NOAA forecast

NOAA’s NCEP coupled forecast system model version 2 predicts that Arctic sea ice extent will be above the long term average in August, September and October this year; the first time this has happened since 1996, according to historic data collated by the University of Illinois. Top graph is the forecast anomaly to the long term average. Bottom is the forecast extent of Arctic sea ice in millions of sq. km. Courtesy: NOAA.

Its a different story in the Arctic where there has been a long term and continuing decline in sea ice levels since satellite monitoring started. But NOAA’s NCEP coupled forecast system model version 2 predicts that Arctic sea ice extent will be above the long term average in August, September and October this year. It is important to note that this is a computer model forecast and that the actual extent on Arctic sea ice may vary significantly but this projected positive anomaly in Arctic sea ice extent would be the first time this has happened since in the Summer since 1996, according to historic data kept by the University of Illinois. It is also important to note that an above average anomaly is not the same as saying that Arctic sea ice extent is recovering but it is a mathematical fact that a prolonged positive anomaly would result in overall growth.

Growth in multiyear sea ice

The seeds of this may be due to the growth of multiyear ice and a thickening of the Arctic sea ice first reported at the end of 2013 by the European Space Agency using data from its CryoSAT spacecraft possibly due to a reduced rate of melt resulting in more sea ice lasting through until the following year adding to overall thickness. The Arctic sea ice data “does point to some recovery in the multiyear ice pack,” according NASA sea ice expert Nathan Kurtz. “The maps show there is considerably more multiyear ice this year than last, much of this consists of second year ice which formed a tongue that extends up toward the East Siberian Sea… This ice is thick enough to survive the summer melt season which could increase Arctic sea ice extent in September, but whether it will survive depends largely on the weather,” he added.

It is most likely that what is happening in the Arctic is a short term blip but it is also possible that natural variations in the regional climate of the Arctic play a bigger role than has been thought previously. Time will tell.

Now, none of this means that global warming is not happening and that climate change is not real but it does once again point to the complexity of the climate. It also highlights the unquestioning and simplistic reporting of the climate by the mainstream media and demonstrates the huge flaw in the the science-is-settled mantra we hear from our leading politicians.

Climate is complicated and, as these awkward graphs demonstrate, the science is anything but settled.

Sources

Latest University of Illinois data here. Latest NSIDC data here. Latest CFS model graph here.

See these papers here and here on possible explanations for the Antarctic sea ice extent growth.

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Comments
One Response to “Antarctic Sea Ice Chalks Another Record Despite Record Temperatures”
  1. wolsten says:

    A balanced review of the data – good article. It will be interesting to see how the main stream media cover this or more likely not.

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