A new record: the most sea ice in Antarctica in 30 years by extent and by volume

Translated by Google from this press release in German at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany:

Never so much sea ice at Antarctica in the last 30 years

In light of global warming, it seems paradoxical that the sea ice cover of the Southern Ocean has covered a larger area in the past month than in the last decades. Only in the mid-70s was observed a similar expansion.

Average sea ice extent in September (1973-2013) with trend line

Seasonal variability of sea ice extent (as at 13.10.2013)

The means were 19.48 million in September 2013 square kilometers, an area once covered more than 50 times larger than Germany with sea ice. The absolute maximum of 19.65 million square kilometers was reached on 18 of September. Although this maximum in the ice-covered surface can not be equated with a maximum of the total volume or mass, suggest that sea ice physicist Marcel Nicolaus and Stefan Hendricks from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) “This winter there is in Antarctica as much ice as long gone, if it has ever been since the beginning of the regular satellite observations ever so much sea ice.”

To be able to make such statements in certain future, the researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute is currently also the thickness of sea ice in the Antarctic work together with colleagues from different institutions that they can derive from satellite observations. In the Arctic, it has recently become possible, although there are significant differences between Arctic and Antarctic. The snow is thick, inhomogeneous and does not melt completely in summer. In addition, sea ice is formed at the top, a phenomenon that is encountered less frequently in the Arctic. Then there can also be calculated from the thickness and extent of sea ice volume in the future.

Minimum sea ice concentration on 22 February 2013

Sea ice concentration maximum at 18 September 2013

The ice-covered area of ​​the Antarctic Ocean grows each year by its minimum at the end of the Antarctic summer (February) of three to four million square kilometers on a multiple (approximately five to six times as much) to the maximum at the end of winter (September). Here, however, there are big regional differences, so that the Antarctic sea ice to be regarded as really a puzzle of different ice cover and assess.

Although over the last few years an increase in the total ice cover in winter and summer is observed, for example, it takes the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, especially in the summer from clear. While the Antarctic Peninsula has warmed significantly in recent decades, the temperature remained stable in other regions.

These differences and the general increase of sea ice in many areas resulting in large part from changes in the wind that drives the sea ice more apart. On the other hand the temperatures and winds from the Antarctic continent have a strong impact on the sea ice belt around him. These are also differences to the Arctic, which contributes that the sea ice behaves so differently in both polar regions.

To better understand all of these contexts, the AWI has conducted two winter experiments with the research icebreaker Polarstern in the Weddell Sea in recent months. In these expeditions, the scientists have ever encountered thick, compact ice, after which they base their theory of the maximum of the ice mass. In addition to measurements during the trip, a variety of automatic measuring stations was deployed on the sea ice. This now continuously measure the thickness, temperature and movement of sea ice and its snow cover and send their data via satellite to the AWI and other project partners.

Reports, photographs, maps and data of these experiments are here presented and commented. More information is also available on the fact sheet on sea ice as well as the websites of the sea ice physics section available.

Polaris in the polar night of the Antarctic winter (Photo: Stefan Hendricks, AWI)

Automatic measuring station for measuring the snow depth on sea ice (Schneeboje) during the polar night. Applied during the winter experiment (Photo: Sandra Schwegmann, AWI).

Pierre Gosselin at No Tricks Zone has a better translation and some additional commentary here: Stunner: Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute Confirms Antarctic Sea Ice May Have Reached Record VOLUME! – See more at: http://notrickszone.com/#sthash.u6C9QFJw.dpuf



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56 Responses to A new record: the most sea ice in Antarctica in 30 years by extent and by volume

  1. David, UK says:

    I love reading Gobbledegook.

  2. David, UK says:
    October 24, 2013 at 1:25 pm. I love reading gobbledegook.
    You’re pretty fair at writing it, too. :)

  3. lenbilen says:

    Ten days record ice set down under.
    The IPCC torn asunder.
    For the Ice does not lie.
    Kiss the warming good-bye.
    It’s worse than a crime, it’s a blunder.


  4. Janice Moore says:

    I loved the “German accent” feel to the above sometimes-a-bit-awkward grammar. It was still easily understandable. Fine article. Re: the translation — Pleeece, doh noht chehnch ah teeng. (smile — no, it wasn’t THAT bad, lol). #(:))

  5. Box of Rocks says:

    So, what is the effect on the tropical waters in terms of water temps?

    When will the cooler waters of Antarctica cool the tropics and hence cool the northern polar regions…

  6. Jimbo says:

    This year the Arctic and Antarctic have been in worse condition than we previously thought! This is climate change in action folks and Warmists are looking aghast at this change of climate. :)

  7. Potter Eaton says:

    To paraphrase Jon Stewart, I wonder how the warmists are going to spin that turd.

    As this is a science blog, I probably shouldn’t say it, but I’m sensing a period of cooling– I don’t know how long– is in the works. I just feel it in my 65 year old bones. We’ve had the coolest spring, summer and now fall in northern San Diego County since I moved here nine years ago.

  8. Climate models falsely predicted Antarctic sea ice would decline more than Arctic sea ice


  9. In this light it is remarkable that the graphs by Cryosphere Today do not show the new record (Sea Ice Page). Only the graph by NSIDC (Antarctic Sea Ice Extent) gave me a hint that something had gone slightly higher than before.

  10. geran says:

    The “translation” is so poor, it is difficult to understand what they are trying to say. But, I think the message is “All of the sea ice, at both poles, has entirely melted, and why our measurements still show ice is a “puzzle”.

  11. peter says:

    I’m sure any mention of this at a warmist site will cause a disdainful sniff, and the remark that the bulk of the ice is decreasing because it’s pushing out into the ocean, causing a larger surface area to be covered. so there has been a net loss of ice, any idiot knows that.

    I’ve given up trying to reason with those people.

  12. jim Steele says:

    Box of Rocks asks “When will the cooler waters of Antarctica cool the tropics and hence cool the northern polar regions” Argo data already shows surface temperatures have been cooling snce 2003 Read Xue. Pielke and Tisdale show tropical cooling is underway…http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2012/07/11/sea-surface-temperature-trends-as-a-function-of-latitude-bands-by-roger-a-pielke-sr-and-bob-tisdale/

  13. TimB says:

    Why didn’t google translate “Germany’s” into “Manhattans?” Isn’t that the standard of measure in American English for ice? The world wants to know how many Manhattan sized icebergs are all clumped together.

    Also, we should introduce Polar Bears into Antarctica. Plenty of sea ice.

  14. Janice Moore says:

    Hi, Geran! (re: 2:26pm) LOL.

  15. This is mother natures answer to Tenbreths missing heat is “lost in the deep” As the sea ice freezes it pushes out the salt which increases the density of the coldest water that sinks to both the polar areas sea floor and moves out toward the tropics along the bottom.

    Any warmer waters in the depth contours of the world oceans is undercut by this twice a year (alternate poles) pumping of coldest densest sea water and the warmer rises in laminar sheets up from the bottom. In the top 200 meters it is further warmed by solar energy, so when it up wells to the surface it is the mid-range temperature water, not the coldest water that comes to the surface.

    Declinational solar (annual) and lunar 27.32 day declinational tidal forces help to mix the coldest bottom water from both poles and drive the global circulation of the ocean currents. This several year increase in the Antarctic sea ice, now coupled with the increase in Arctic sea ice production declares as a result a much greater net increase in cold ocean bottom water, going into the system, which as it turns over the volume will show up as a lagged raising of the thermocline boundaries as it accumulates going into the continued slow down of solar magnetic activity.

    Interesting times ahead and valuable data to be found, as we learn how it all interacts to give us the climate we end up with.

  16. shs28078 says:

    Funny, Antarctic sea ice has been growing ever since that wiki hack mcconnoli got sacked from the Antarctic survey.

  17. Joe Public says:

    I’ll be surprised if the Beeb’s resident Environment Pessimist Jonathan Amos reports this, because it’s “good” news.

  18. @ TimB says:
    October 24, 2013 at 3:01 pm
    “Also, we should introduce Polar Bears into Antarctica. Plenty of sea ice.”
    And plenty of Penguins to feed on.

  19. pax says:

    But it’s rotten ice.

  20. AndyG55 says:

    You must understand,
    This is special ice, that will melt when the temperature climbs to -30°C !

  21. William Astley says:

    In reply to:

    Box of Rocks says:
    October 24, 2013 at 2:06 pm
    So, what is the effect on the tropical waters in terms of water temps?
    When will the cooler waters of Antarctica cool the tropics and hence cool the northern polar regions…

    The Arctic will also cool, if the reason, the physical cause of the sudden increase in Antarctic sea ice is the sudden slowdown in the solar magnetic cycle. There are cycles of warming and cooling in the paleo record – both hemispheres – that correlate with solar magnetic cycle changes.

    The paleo record shows there is cyclic ‘natural’ (William: natural is in quotation marks as the forcing appears to be solar magnetic cycle changes as opposed to natural changes in the internal climate system) warming and cooling of the Antarctic peninsula cooling. The cyclic warming and cooling of the Antarctic peninsula correlates with the amount of sea ice around the Antarctic continent, in a complicated manner as Antarctic ice sheet itself slightly cools when the Greenland Ice Sheet warms as the albedo of the Antarctic ice sheet is slightly higher than low level clouds. The phenomena where the Antarctic ice sheet cools when the Greenland ice warms which is what we what we have observed in the last 50 years is called the polar see-saw which is a bit confusing as the see-saw is only the Greenland Ice sheet and the Antarctic ice sheet. ( See Svensmark’s linked paper for details concerning the Polar see-saw.) There is also cyclic warming and cooling of the Greenland Ice sheet which correlates with Arctic sea cyclic changes.

    Davis and Taylor: “Does the current global warming signal reflect a natural cycle”
    …We found 342 natural warming events (NWEs) corresponding to this definition, distributed over the past 250,000 years …. …. The 342 NWEs contained in the Vostok ice core record are divided into low-rate warming events (LRWEs; < 0.74oC/century) and high rate warming events (HRWEs; ≥ 0.74oC /century) (Figure). … ….The current global warming signal is therefore the slowest and among the smallest in comparison with all HRWEs in the Vostok record, although the current warming signal could in the coming decades yet reach the level of past HRWEs for some parameters. The figure shows the most recent 16 HRWEs in the Vostok ice core data during the Holocene, interspersed with a number of LRWEs. …. ….We were delighted to see the paper published in Nature magazine online (August 22, 2012 issue) reporting past climate warming events in the Antarctic similar in amplitude and warming rate to the present global warming signal. The paper, entitled "Recent Antarctic Peninsula warming relative to Holocene climate and ice – shelf history" and authored by Robert Mulvaney and colleagues of the British Antarctic Survey ( Nature , 2012, doi:10.1038/nature11391),reports two recent natural warming cycles, one around 1500 AD and another around 400 AD, measured from isotope (deuterium) concentrations in ice cores bored adjacent to recent breaks in the ice shelf in northeast Antarctica. ….

    Greenland ice temperature, last 11,000 years determined from ice core analysis, Richard Alley’s paper. William: As this paper shows there the Greenland Ice data shows that have been 9 warming and cooling periods in the last 11,000 years.
    The Antarctic climate anomaly and galactic cosmic rays by Henrik Svensmark
    There has been a massive increase in 5 five year ice in the Arctic which indicates the onset of cooling there.

  22. observa says:

    Manitou in sky say paleface and penguin worry heaps when Inuit begin migrate south for summer.
    Or was it Gaia?

  23. Martin Mayer says:

    TimB says:
    October 24, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    That’s 330,000 Manhattans or 28 Californias take your pick!

  24. Martin457 says:

    I’m worried about the penguins. How much farther do they have to travel now to get food?
    Will they survive this plague of ice? Isn’t there anything we can do to save the penguins?
    Didn’t Gore do something down there this year? Must have, look at all the cold.

  25. RACookPE1978 says:

    But it is even worse than you thought!

    Those 19.65 million sq km’s of Antarctic sea ice (now at all-time recorded highs!) surrounds the Antarctic ice shelves (1.5 million sq km’s) which turn surround the 14.0 million sq km’s of Antarctic land mass (96+ percent of which is permanently covered by land ice of varying thicknesses)

    So, the total Antarctic “ice” reflecting area is 1.5 + 14.0 + 19.65 = 35.15 million sq km’s of highly reflective land ice, sea ice, and snow. The “edge” of this Antarctic ice cap is a circle extending fro the pole upwards past latitude 60. Each added sq km reflects a LOT of energy at that latitude, many times more than can be absorbed at latitude 80, 82, or 83.

    So, in the earth’s total heat budget, what matters more?
    Losing 1.0 million sq km’s of sea ice up in the Arctic (that ice up high between latitude 82, 83, or 85 degrees? Up high where the air mass is 4 to 5 times what it is at latitude 60? Up high where the open water albedo is 4.0 to 5.0 times larger than at latitude 60? Remember, at latitude 80-85 from later August through early May, more energy is lost from the open ocean than can be absorbed from sunlight on that open ocean when it is exposed by melting the sea ice. In the high Arctic under today’s actual conditions, losing sea lice to the open ocean cools the planet.

    Or adding 1.0 million sq km’s to the edge of the Antarctic sea ice near latitude 60? At that latitude – characterized by higher solar angles for longer periods of time over more days of the year – each sq km of new sea ice reflects more and more solar energy, thus – again! – cooling the planet.

  26. Jimbo says:

    AR5 says that at the end of this century we will see a decline in Antarctica’s sea ice extent. It also says we will see more snow in Antarctica and yet says they don’t know why the current extent is so high. An abstract I read in the last few days said that more snow in Antarctica leads to a greater sea ice extent. Some CAGW scientist have speculated that ‘climate change’ leads to melting sea ice which leads to an increase in Antarctica’s sea ice extent. After the hottest decade on the record Antarctica’s extent is at its highest on the record.

    Q) Could it be that climate scientists don’t know what is really going on?
    Q) Could it be they are trying to sell me a pig in a poke?
    Q) Could it be that funding has lead them astray?
    Q) Could it be that one day they will go on trial for fraud?

  27. PhilJourdan says:

    In the discussion over at Judith Curry’s site on the Stadium Wave, part of the speculation was that the AMO was a big part of both the loss of ice up north, and the addition down south. When the AMO turns warm, it saps the energy from the southern Atlantic, thus allowing for cooler waters and hence more ice formation. That was just a discussion Marcia Wyatt had with one of the posters, but she indicated it would be worth investigating.

    I hope she does.

  28. Jeef says:

    I was taught as a geologist 30 years ago that the arctic is variable due to continents and ocean circulation, the Antarctic less so.

    Not news to those of us old enough to have avoided propaganda!!

  29. ZootCadillac says:

    @David UK Then read it in the original German where it makes a little more sense. It’s the nature of German syntax that always makes auto translations awkward as although basic word order is similar to English, and it ought to be given that old High German forms much of the basis of the English language, the placements of verbs and subjects determines how it should be read. A human can do this quite easily, quickly recognising the subject and making sense of it in English. Google translate just sees words.

  30. gopal panicker says:

    yeah…the penguins…why do they go so far inland to lay their eggs…anybody know ?…my guess is that there was much less ice in the past…but they are programmed to return to the same area…like salmon…turtles…eels…etc

  31. Brian H says:

    It bothers me muchly to celebrate that which will kill many more (cooling) than either the status quo or warming. I am consoled only by the thought that Warmists will kill more than both with their energy starvation policies, if given the chance (so anything that blocks them is worthwhile).

    But it still sucks.

  32. alacran says:

    Where has all the warming gone? Wo ist es geblieben?The answer gives the sun!Es war übertrieben!
    In the arctic too, we see less melting and a record sea-ice recovery . Is this really just weather??
    By the way, Alfred Wegener published the Hypothesis of the continental drift . His theory was a “moonshine” idea to 90% of the “experts” till the 40ies!

  33. LeeHarvey says:

    The poor translation was retribution for the NSA eavesdropping on Angela Merkel. ;-)

  34. beng says:

    Interesting that the Arctic made the “turn” from minimum weeks ago, but the Antarctic lags weeks to make its turn.

  35. beng says:

    TimB says:
    October 24, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    Also, we should introduce Polar Bears into Antarctica. Plenty of sea ice.

    IMO that might be a good idea if they were in danger of extinction (which they’re not), except they would prb’ly decimate the defenseless penguins there. They could be released well away from penguin-occupied areas into seal territories, but such an audacious act would cause warmers to cry havoc and let loose the dogs of hand-wringing.

  36. Climatism says:

    Reblogged this on CACA and commented:
    Meanwhile up in the CO2 ravaged Northern Hemisphere ~ “Five Of The Six Snowiest Winters Have Occurred Since David Viner Declared The End Of Snow” http://climatism.wordpress.com/2013/10/25/five-of-the-six-snowiest-winters-have-occurred-since-david-viner-declared-the-end-of-snow/
    But no need to get all denialist about it, the IPCC assures us that they have located the missing heat at the bottom of the oceans.

  37. phlogiston says:

    Phil Jourdan

    The debate about the AMO at Judith Curry’s site is about two conjoined phenomena: heat piracy and the bipolar seesaw.

    I haven’t read that debate but if it is AGW hacks who are turning to the AMO to explain the cooling Antarctic, they may be missing one glaring implication. That the NH warming of the last 30 years has not resulted from heat
    added to the climate system, anthropogenic or otherwise. It has just been borrowed from the SH.

    Something similar could be said about our economic growth over the same period.

  38. phlogiston says:

    The top figure, Antarctic sea ice since 1973, shows what a profound global impact there was from the Pacific ocean climate regime change in 1976.

    Its just a pity we don’t have this data going back another couple of decades.

  39. Richard Sharpe says:

    Why was there a 2SD uptick in Antarctic ice extent in September, 2012?

    That’s what this seems to show:


  40. brians356 says:

    “No, nott me, I vass in Iceland all during ze War.”

  41. Phil. says:

    gopal panicker says:
    October 24, 2013 at 9:49 pm
    yeah…the penguins…why do they go so far inland to lay their eggs…anybody know ?…my guess is that there was much less ice in the past…but they are programmed to return to the same area…like salmon…turtles…eels…etc

    Because they need to be on permanent ice which is a long way from the sea-ice boundary in the winter.

  42. Richard Sharpe says:

    Because they need to be on permanent ice which is a long way from the sea-ice boundary in the winter.

    How do they detect that it is permanent ice?

    Sensors in their feet?

    This is an interesting issue?

  43. philjourdan says:

    @Phlogiston – I do not know the players at Dr. Curry’s site well enough to have picked out if they were the alarmists or not. And Marcia Wyatt was neutral enough and scholarly enough that she did not favor one side or the other, so it was a pleasure reading her defense and explanation of her thesis.

    But I do agree with you. The AMO is evidence of heat transference, not warming. Some parts will warm at the expense of others, the AMO just is the transport mechanism.

  44. beng says:

    Phil. says:
    October 25, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Because they need to be on permanent ice which is a long way from the sea-ice boundary in the winter.

    C’mon, Phildot, didn’t you see the National Geographic show on (Emperor?) peguins? They walk 60 miles inland over permanent land to their rookeries.

  45. Pamela Gray says:

    AND they are really good tap dancers!

  46. Pamela Gray says:

    We are certainly in a cold spell that may get worse. Count nightcrawlers, bats, and grasshoppers. For many years now, the spring weather along the upper western states of the US has been cold, cold, cold, and long, long, long. Hot Summers and cold Summers are uncomfortable, but the effects are not devastating. An extended cold Spring puts everything back and results in decreasing populations of, for example, nightcrawlers, bats, and grasshoppers. I pay attention to these three things because I fish with two of them, and live with one of them.

  47. JohnWho says:

    @ Pamela Gray says:
    October 26, 2013 at 7:30 am

    *Tries to picture Pamela fishing with bats.*

    Are you trying to catch flying fish?

  48. beng says:

    jim Steele says:
    October 24, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Antarctic sea ice is the better climate indicator http://landscapesandcycles.net/antarctic-sea-ice–climate-change-indicator.html

    Jim, I wish I could post the image I saw (it’s saved in my files) in a paper yrs ago showing IR emitted from earth to space (by satellite). It showed what you’d expect from tropical/extra-tropical spots, but showed CO2 acting the opposite in Antarctica — cooling the surface instead of warming. This, I figured, had to be due to a temp inversion causing the CO2-emitting layer (~40000 ft altitude) to be warmer than the surface! That’s an anti-GHG effect.

    That might help explain the slight cooling of Antarctica.

  49. beng says:

    OK, found an image of what I mentioned above — look at Fig 1.2 in the link below and particularly the third image for Antarctica — the CO2 “bump” is upward instead of downward! CO2 is emitting at a higher temp than the surface.


  50. Kevin Lohse says:

    Pamala Gray says: I suggest it’s quite wrong for Ms. Gray to refer to her significant other as a night crawler .

  51. Sunspot says:

    Gore and Hansen lead a team down there a few years ago to try and drum up a story on the demise of the polar cap. They were frozen and disappointed. I think the words were “keep moving nothing to see here”

  52. phlogiston says:


    I guess in a sense the gulf stream starts south of the equator, since it is fed by the Carribean current and in turn by the cross-equatorial current which is where the heat piracy takes place (I love the “pirates of the Carribean” analogy!)

    The strong correlation between Barents sea temperatures and the AMO indicates that the gulf stream which terminates in the Barents cycles in strength with the AMO. This would explain some NH-SH reciprocation, in other words the bipolar seesaw. Based on teleconnection between gulf stream supply to the Barents and Atlantic cross-equatorial heat piracy.

  53. dbstealey says:


    Climate4you.com has some good graphs of OLR at various latitudes.

    Jim Steele,

    Those are some great questions in your linked blog:

    1. Why has all the media attention been focused on melting Arctic sea ice ?

    2. How can CO2-induced warming melt Arctic sea ice but increase Antractic sea ice?

    3. If more freshwater in the Antractic oceans causes ice to form more quickly, why isn’t Arctic sea ice growing?

    4. How do scientists separate rising temperatures caused by ventilated ocean heat versus contributions from CO2?

    I’d love to corner Tamino or joelshore and make them explain. Their tapdancing would be spectacular!

  54. MattN says:

    How come NSIDC has not issued a release in English???

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