# New Antarctic Sea Ice Video – shows cycles and ice growth

Antarctic Sea Ice Complete Video

by Jeff Id , reposted here by invitation. The video animation Jeff put together is well worth watching, see it below the “read more” line. – Anthony

Antarctic temperatures and sea ice are becoming quite a hobby. It should make for some interesting discussion around the campfire this summer – not really. It takes my computer about 15 hours to calculate this movie and it took all day to figure out how to make the movie work. Actually it takes a minute then wait, then a minute and wait again. I finally got a reasonable quality video at 15 frames per second, one frame per day from 1978 – 2009. Before you watch the video Figure 1 is a map of the Wilkins ice shelf which apparently is about to melt every hot January summer at the south pole.

The melting of the Wilkins ice shelf has happened over and over prompting numerous articles like the following.

Wilkins Ice Shelf About to Break Off and Alter the Map of Antarctica

Vast Antarctic Ice Shelf on Verge of Collapse

The headlines are truly endless and will continue this year as well.

Here is a video which is particularly pertinent in it’s discussion and the fact that it ends with a discussion of climate science by Hillary Clinton. I recommend it to everyone before watching the video below.

Wilkins Ice Shelf Collapse Video

Below is a plot of the sea ice area anomaly in the antarctic calculated from the NSIDC NasaTeam algorithm data. It shows an upward trend in sea ice extent over the last 30 years.

Figure 2

I’ve pointed out here many times that the trends do in fact exist if the even if the statistical certainty created by typical high frequency climate activity can create a trend of the same magnitude. This is an important differentiation which certain ‘over the top’ scientists in AGW crowd tend to blur. Statistical certainty of a trend does not always mean the trend does or does not exist, a trend is a trend to the certainty of the measurement error (different than certainty created from other noise). Some global warming bloggers like to blur that distinction.

The interpretation of a trend’s meaning does change with the statistical certainty of the trend. In the case of Antarctic sea ice growth I have seen one example demonstrating the trend is statistically significant despite climate noise. However the point of ice shrinking or growing is to interpret the consequences of a trend with regards to global warming. When interpreting the consequences of ice growth or shrinkage in my opinion the arbitrary significance threshold and linear trend has little meaning.

The annual variance of the sea ice is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3

The huge annual variation dwarfs any apparent trend with the signal dropping to near zero every year. The thermal inertia of the ice creates a smooth cyclical process allows us to make pretty anomaly plots like Figure 2 but trend wise there isn’t much to say. So I guess I’m fired from my budding climatology career again. The reason they have little meaning becomes apparent in the wildly dynamic sea ice video presented below.

Below is a link to a video file of the Antarctic sea ice trends for 30 years.

Figure 4 – Antarctic Sea Ice Video – Click to play

Now consider that each pixel of the Antarctic ice data is 25 km and in the video of the Wilkins ice shelf, the crack is 40miles long – that is about 2.6 pixels in the Figure 4 video.

What’s really interesting about the video is the clockwise rotation of the ice which becomes especially visible during maximum extent. Another interesting point is the peninsula acts as a shelter to the ice on its leeward side. The Wilkins shelf get’s blasted by air and water currents every year from the south in this image, once we understand that combined with in the CNN video (link above) the reason the ice bridge exists is obviously due to protection from ocean and air currents by a small island (look at the angle of the ice bridge in the CNN video compared to current flow). The Island has protected this very small piece of ice from cracking for some time probably because the amazing circularity of the Antarctic continent doesn’t experience very large current changes.

I’ve watched the above video a dozen or so times (wouldn’t you after a day’s work) I noticed that there does appear to be a change in weather patterns in more recent years as the upward flow below the peninsula cuts away at the maximum ice extent on the West side of the image. The same is true for the East side of the image.

I had the advantage of doing a trend by pixel plot previously which led me to look for the effect. The plot done by myself in a previous post using a slightly older version of the same data is shown in Figure 5. The loss of ice on the West and East sides of the Antarctic is visible as blue pixels at the extreme edges of the range.

Figrure 5 – Antarctic sea ice trend by pixel

Its difficult to imagine after watching this video that this ice shelf hasn’t collapsed (or whatever it’s called) and re-formed in the last several hundred years, more than once. Remember the ice from the shelf forms on land and flows out to sea. Either way, considering the natural variation of Antarctic sea ice, can we really say the current Antarctic ice trend or the change of an ice shelf in such a tiny area has a powerful meaning for the future of Earth?

If you missed the Arctic version of the video the link is here: Arctic Ice Video

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Gary Pearse
July 1, 2009 8:56 am

Jeff: A Herculean task. One can see readily from this what extreme cherry-picking the selected news items represent. Norway’s environment minister also cinically chose Janurary to take a gaggle of european environment ministers for an Antarctica visit (no link chased down) to see melting ice. I wish someone would pay for another trip in July-August.
After so much work, I hate to suggest this: it would enhance the work to have an average circle around Antarctica to help judge the variations.

Mr Lynn
July 1, 2009 9:01 am

Seriously, a splendid graphic demonstration of the cyclical nature of natural processes, and of the silliness of taking a very limited timeframe and claiming it constitutes a crisis.
Thanks for putting the time and effort into it. It should be part of a film shown to school students, to counter the apocalyptic nonsense promulgated by Algore.
/Mr Lynn

Steven Kopits
July 1, 2009 9:20 am

Great animation. Once again, a service to the community.
I didn’t realize there was so much melting and reforming in Antartica. Quite interesting, actually.
It seems to me (with one view only), that the Wilkins ice shelf was quite large in 2008, leaving more of it exposed to wind and currents. This may explain why part of it broke off.
Overall, based on the video only, I can’t see that much has changed in Antarctica over time. I didn’t see anything that would cause me to be alarmed one way or the other.

Jimmy Haigh
July 1, 2009 9:25 am

Beautiful stuff! Superb work Jeff.
Why not send the video to all the news agencies.
I do worry about the polar bears every summer though. Imagine how many must be stranded on the last remnants of ice all round Antarctica every year hundreds of miles from land…. Every year since 1979 anyway.
(The first warmist to point out that there are no polar bears in the Antarctic gets a prize.)

Skeptic Tank
July 1, 2009 9:39 am

(The first warmist to point out that there are no polar bears in the Antarctic gets a prize.)
It must have been a AGW-caused die-off. I mean, what else could it be?

Jimmy Haigh
July 1, 2009 9:48 am

From Jeff’s introduction above: “Below is a plot of the sea ice area anomaly in the antarctic calculated from the NSIDC NasaTeam algorithm data.”
I just love the mathematical term ‘algorithm’. Do climate scientists use ‘Al Gore-ithms?”
I’m a Johnny come lately on this site so apologies if this is an old one.

hunter
July 1, 2009 10:02 am

Thank you for putting this together.
When the winds of rationality reassert themselves and blow the AGW hype away, people will be puzzled as to how the fear mongers ever captured the public square in the first place.

Dan Lee
July 1, 2009 10:14 am

>(The first warmist to point out that there are no polar bears in the Antarctic gets a prize.)
Judging from that Wilkins Ice Shelf Collapse video, there are plenty of Lemmings hanging out down there now, although I think they’ll be temporarily migrating to Copenhagen later this year.
The warmistas need to put themselves on the endangered species list.

Dan Lee
July 1, 2009 10:19 am

Oops, hit submit too quickly – the last remark about warmistas should have included “if current trends continue”. both with cooling climate and with cooling popular opinion.

P Walker
July 1, 2009 10:27 am

Wow , didn’t realize there was so much melting and freezing either . I didn’t see anything alarming – it really looks as though the sea ice extent has remained fairly consistent through each cycle . Please forgive my ignorance , but is it possible that the collapse was , in part , brought about bt a lack of pressure from the mainland ? that is would a slowing of glacial movement relieve the forces that held the bridge in place cause its collapse ?

P Walker
July 1, 2009 10:30 am

Sorry , I should have said shelf , although it bridged the mainland to an island . At least , that’s my understanding .

Jack Ketch
July 1, 2009 10:34 am

Jeff, wonderful job.
But again this begs the questions:
Why did YOU have to do this?
Why isn’t this standard information?
Why doesn’t the nsidc append a new image every satellite pass when it would take them only seconds to do?

Jimmy Haigh
July 1, 2009 10:38 am

I remember when I was but a lad hearing about lemmings jumping en-masse off of cliffs at the drop of a hat. And from a great height to boot.
Apparently a documentary crew went to film this common event and found that the lemmings did not – in fact – run helter skelter off the cliffs. So…. they chased them off.
Now, I’m not suggesting that AGW documentary makers would blow up an ice bridge…

John H 55
July 1, 2009 10:41 am

Oh good grief, there are no polar bears in the Antarctic because that’s the bottom of the world and they would fall off.

Ron Acevedo
July 1, 2009 10:45 am

Thanks, very good.

F. Ross
July 1, 2009 10:57 am

Jeff Id
What’s really interesting about the video is the clockwise rotation of the ice which becomes especially visible during maximum extent.

Great video, thank you.
Re the “rotation” do you believe this is an actual rotation [as opposed to perhaps only a stroboscopic visual effect]?

mike sander
July 1, 2009 11:07 am

Well, now I am worried about the Emperor Penguins. They have to walk to the sea edge from their breeding grounds. If there is too much ice the walk would be too long…..could be tough on them. Can’t we increase the melt rate so the penguins will have an easier time breeding?

TT
July 1, 2009 11:17 am

This Wilkins Ice Shelf Break Off sounds like a baby (40 miles long) compared to the burg spotted by the USS Glacier 150 miles west of Scott Island on Nov 12, 1956. The burg was 208 miles long and 60 miles wide (12,000 sq miles).
I’m sure there were larger burgs that have not been recorded in the last 100 years.

Glenn
July 1, 2009 11:39 am

TT (11:17:21) :
“This Wilkins Ice Shelf Break Off sounds like a baby (40 miles long) compared to the burg spotted by the USS Glacier 150 miles west of Scott Island on Nov 12, 1956. The burg was 208 miles long and 60 miles wide (12,000 sq miles).”
Wiki claims of Scott Island:
“There is an automatic weather station on the island, currently at an elevation of 30 meters. Weather records date back to 1988, with interruptions. [1] The records show an average temperature of a few degrees °C below zero in summer, and down to -40 °C in winter.”
Yet their reference to this appears dead
http://uwamrc.ssec.wisc.edu/aws/scottismain.html
Main page (http://uwamrc.ssec.wisc.edu/) has a simple message:
“This is artic! Its currently down for maintance”
An inconvenient truth?

Jack Green
July 1, 2009 12:15 pm

Are you going to believe you lying eyes?
Very powerful when you can see it for yourself. The Wilkins Ice Shelf is hammered by strong ocean dynamics and the clockwise flow into the peninsula.
Thanks and get the word out. They have meaning.

July 1, 2009 1:43 pm

Thanks everyone, and to Anthony as well.
It takes a huge amount of time to make these videos but like many here, I had no idea that sea ice was this dynamic. With the sea ice melting and regrowing and wind hammering away at the ice shelf it’s amazing it lasts at all – just an engineers view.

glenncz
July 1, 2009 2:02 pm

this is a pretty thorough link with more on Antartica, including info on the Adelie Penguins which many of have heard about. Nat’l Geo in 2007 warns us “Adelie Penguins are in the midst of a major upheaval as clmate change causes their icy habitat to warm up…” NOT!
http://www.appinsys.com/GlobalWarming/RS_Antarctica.htm

Dave Wendt
July 1, 2009 2:20 pm

Great work again Jeff! Once again you have demonstrated how the relatively simple expedient of animating the data greatly enhances one’s ability to comprehend what is actually occurring in the polar regions of the planet. I have to wonder, given the vast allotments of grant money flowing through the climate sciences at present, why it has fallen on you to provide this rather basic service. That question of course relies on the obviously deluded assumption that the goal of all that spending is to increase public understanding of what is truly happening to the climate. As I have pointed out a number of times, here and elsewhere, between the Arctic and Antarctic the planet annually loses and recreates an area of sea ice that is about 3 times the size of the lower 48 and though the arctic has definitely increased its’ annual loss over the era of satellite measurement, the increment of the planetary total is small and balanced by the observed increase in Antarctic ice area. I also think it is worth mentioning that the sat record commences in 1979, which you long term subscribers to Time and Newsweek may recall was quite close to the time when the climate scare du jour was the impending ice age. I would also like to repeat my recommendation that graphic presentations that show Antarctica include a silhouette outline of the continental US so the layman may internalize the scale of the place, which at max sea ice extent is pushing four times the area of the country.

July 1, 2009 2:29 pm

F Ross,
It is an actual rotation, I have the advantage of a less compressed video to watch which reveals more of the detail. The ice behaves visually like a slightly non-Newtonian fluid under the stresses from circumpolar water flow on this time scale.

rotation2
July 1, 2009 2:50 pm

Gary Pearse (08:56:02) :
Jeff: A Herculean task. One can see readily from this what extreme cherry-picking the selected news items represent. Norway’s environment minister also cinically chose Janurary to take a gaggle of european environment ministers for an Antarctica visit (no link chased down) to see melting ice. I wish someone would pay for another trip in July-August.
After so much work, I hate to suggest this: it would enhance the work to have an average circle around Antarctica to help judge the variations.
Gary: Here at McMurdo a couple months ago we had back to back storms that dumped almost 7′ of snow us. It took close to a month to clean things up. I’d welcome a vist now, it would be nice to get some mail.

July 1, 2009 2:56 pm

F. Ross: You asked Jeff Id, “Re the “rotation” do you believe this is an actual rotation [as opposed to perhaps only a stroboscopic visual effect]?”
The Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) should be responsible for a major part of the rotation. The ACC is visible in the animation I created of the ECMWF depth-averaged temperature maps here:

The ACC is also very visible in the a high-resolution sea surface height video produced by Sebastian Krieger:

Those videos were part of my post “Animations of Ocean Heat Content, Depth-Averaged Temperature, And Sea Surface Height”:
http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/05/animations-of-ocean-heat-content-depth.html
The third animation was of the supplemental Ocean Heat Content maps provided as part of Levitus et al (2009). That video pretty much illustrated–Hmmm, what’s the word I’m looking for?–squat.

July 1, 2009 3:00 pm

Jeff Id: Thanks. The video is great. I’m not sure which I enjoy more, this one or the one for the Arctic.
Regards.

July 1, 2009 3:56 pm

This video and the Arctic sea ice vid are stunning. Thank you for sharing the fruits of your labor. I linked both on my own (tiny) blog in case my (three) readers are not also readers of this blog or your own.
Providing this information on these websites is a great service to people. Thank you all.

Pete W
July 1, 2009 4:11 pm

Wow, you guys really seem to believe the earth is cooling. And I also saw mention above of the ice age scare from the 1970’s… you do know that scare was purely a product of the press, and there was no scientific community support for it don’t you? Just goes to prove that it is the scientific community that we should be listing to. Anyway… keep on spinning. Its what you do.
http://www.grist.org/article/the-satellites-show-cooling/
http://www.skepticalscience.com/ice-age-predictions-in-1970s.htm
Pete

VG
July 1, 2009 4:23 pm

OT. AGW = La Nina will make it much worse. Because you know, they said El Nino was responsible for fall in temps during 2008. Well we have the beginnings of a Nina 2009, lets see what they will say if temps continue to fall? (as its seems to date anyway). BTW how can we get Spanish “enye” symbol over 2nd n for La Nina here so we can put correct word?

July 1, 2009 4:28 pm

Jeff,
Thanks for the hard work, the video really brings the currents and rotation to life. I would have to agree that with these movements, it is likely changes to the Wilkins Ice Shelf are common events. I don’t know if it is an artifact of the data, but I notice that the ice seems to avoid forming on the very tip of the penisular. Even as the ice forms around to connect to the eastern side of the peninsular, some blue seem remain at the tip, enclosed by the ice.

VG
July 1, 2009 4:28 pm

re previous Think I got the El Nino’s la Nina’s right I hope… or was it the other way round?

July 1, 2009 4:45 pm

It seems to me that the rotation of the ice is slowing over time

July 1, 2009 4:46 pm

VG: You wrote, “OT. AGW = La Nina will make it much worse. Because you know, they said El Nino was responsible for fall in temps during 2008. Well we have the beginnings of a Nina 2009, lets see what they will say if temps continue to fall? (as its seems to date anyway).”
Then asked, “re previous Think I got the El Nino’s la Nina’s right I hope… or was it the other way round?”
Other way around. NINO3.4 SST anomalies are rising toward a moderate El Nino. The preliminary SST anomaly update for June 2009 is here:
http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/06/well-there-ya-have-it-oiv2-sst-data.html
Also, the domination of El Nino events since the mid-1970s was responsible for the rise in global temperature. See:
http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/01/can-el-nino-events-explain-all-of.html
http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/01/can-el-nino-events-explain-all-of_11.html
Regards

Dave Wendt
July 1, 2009 5:19 pm

Another thing that these animations make obvious is that the temperature trends of the polar regions, whatever they may actually be, are largely irrelevant to the process of ice sheet loss. Clearly, in both the Arctic and Antarctic the ice does its’ annual disappearing act because the combined forces of winds, currents, tides and gyres shred the ice and disperse it to more temperate latitudes where the actual melting takes place. Of course, you can’t deny that there is in situ melting in the summer seasons in both polar regions, but having spent going on 60 years here in Minnesota observing what it takes to return relatively minor quantities of frozen water back to its’ liquid state each Spring, I find it hard to credit that, even with around the clock sunshine, regions where the temps barely reach the melting point of water on the hottest days, are loosing significant fractions of there massive ice supplies to melting.

JamesD
July 1, 2009 5:45 pm

On the “south” side of the video, the ice melts next to the land but stays frozen in the ocean much longer. Are there major volcanoes in that area?

Keith W
July 1, 2009 5:46 pm

The expansion and contraction of ice over the last 30 years are clearly demonstrated in this and the earlier Arctic video. Great work Jeff.

F. Ross
July 1, 2009 6:01 pm

Jeff Id (14:29:46) :
Thanks for the explanation [and your great efforts].

F. Ross
July 1, 2009 6:03 pm

Bob Tisdale (14:56:57) :
…and thanks to Bob Tisdale too.

July 1, 2009 6:06 pm

JamesD,
I recall something in a recent thread here about volcanic activity under that peninsula, which helped to explain the extra warmth that is not found in the main body of Antarctica. The peninsula is on the edge of a tectonic plate, where volcanic activity frequently occurs.
It’s interesting that the warmist contingent cherry picks that relatively small peninsula, while studiously ignoring the long term cooling on the rest of the continent: click

July 1, 2009 6:07 pm

But you see, that can’t be true!
After all, we “know” that black plates put on the ground melt the snow and ice under the snow and then the melted snow and ice from one year aren’t present the next year and make the ground warmer the next year so more ice and snow melt so the arctic gets hotter and melts more ice and snow and we’re all gonna die unless we do something right now and we can’t wait and we must solve the climate crisis immediately so we can’t wait to read the climate bill (or even write it) so we have to vote on it today!

Did you notice that record low AMSRE ice extents in Sept 2007 recovered so fast that by February 2009 there were record HIGH AMSRE ice extents?

And everybody nose polar bears fly south for the summer ….

Rhyl Dearden
July 1, 2009 6:29 pm

Has anyone sent this to Steve Fielding and/or Penny Wong?
Seeing how ice grows and melts each year, with some variability, is wonderful – change is natural and no cause for alarm.
Thanks, Jeff for such an effort.

AnonyMoose
July 1, 2009 6:38 pm

“West side of the image.”
Which side is that? I know which side is the South side. The inside.

Editor
July 1, 2009 7:10 pm

I’m really happy that Anthony is generous enough to cross-post from sites like Jeff’s… but it would be really neat if you would visit Jeff’s site as well and comment on some of the other issues he posts. The Air Vent is a site everyone should visit regularly. Just looks a little odd that the number of comments on Jeff’s site for this article are slightly over one third those attracted here… of course, WUWT is the Science Blog of the Year… still, Jeff and his collaborators have been doing excellent work. Pay them a visit.
Reply: I second that. ~ ctm

Graeme Rodaughan
July 1, 2009 7:44 pm

Jimmy Haigh (09:25:35) :
Beautiful stuff! Superb work Jeff.
Why not send the video to all the news agencies.
I do worry about the polar bears every summer though. Imagine how many must be stranded on the last remnants of ice all round Antarctica every year hundreds of miles from land…. Every year since 1979 anyway.
(The first warmist to point out that there are no polar bears in the Antarctic gets a prize.)

No Polar Bears in Antartica – ha, here is my AGW explanation.
No, No, No, you have to go back into deep time – like the 1950s and 60s…
Evil Humanity were busily using FREON, and hurling CFCs into the Atmosphere… These caused a Gaping Hole in the OZONE Layer over Antartica.
The Polar Bear population was decimated on two fronts.
First UV Rays from Outer Space fried all the Penguins, Seals and Fish that the poor Polar Bears use to eat, so they were starving to death. The UV Rays from Outer Space also caused Horrible Disfiguring Facial Cancers (HDFCs) on the Starving Polar Bears resulting in even more deaths. Extinction was swift and sure.
So they were all gone before AGW had a chance to kill them off a second time.
(Unfortunately I have to withdraw from the competition – I don’t qualify as a Warmist).

Douglas DC
July 1, 2009 7:59 pm

Graeme Rodaughan (19:44:11) : Don’t forget all of the Atomic tests and the secret German UFO base inside the hollow
earth in Antarctica.
I can’t get that paranoid if I tried,BTW…
Oh and Meacham Or. had 31f today and 32f yesterday- about 4500 ft Msl in the NE Oregon Blue mtns.Broke the old ones by -4f as I recall…

philincalifornia
July 1, 2009 8:23 pm

Pete W (16:11:24) : linked to:
Until recently, though, one of the many analyses of tropospheric temperatures did show very little warming and was in direct contradiction to model predictions that say the troposphere should warm significantly in an enhanced greenhouse environment. Something had to be wrong ….
However, it turns out that additional errors were uncovered and the MSU Satellite temperature analysis now shows warming well in line with model expectations.
———————————————-
You’re not even a tad suspicious about that flow of “information” …. ?

Dave Wendt
July 1, 2009 8:41 pm

Pete W (16:11:24) :
Wow, you guys really seem to believe the earth is cooling. And I also saw mention above of the ice age scare from the 1970’s… you do know that scare was purely a product of the press, and there was no scientific community support for it don’t you? Just goes to prove that it is the scientific community that we should be listing to. Anyway… keep on spinning. Its what you do.
Since mine was the only comment previous to yours that referenced the 70’s ice age scare, I’m assuming that your comment was directed to me. Personally I can’t say I have the faintest clue as to what the climate is doing at the moment, but from having spent way more time than I probably should have, surfing about on both sides of this climate farce, there is one belief that I can really support and that is that nothing I have encountered leads me to have even the vaguest of suspicions that anyone else does either. I wouldn’t presume to speak for the beliefs of all the other visitors here, but in the interest of equanimity I’ll agree to cajole anyone here talking about “cooling” while the positive temperature anomaly is merely declining and hasn’t gone completely negative, if you will agree to act similarly when one of your coreligionists gets on about “oceanic acidification” before ocean PH gets within spitting distance of 7.
As to the ice age scare of the 70’s, I have no idea what your age is, but I had the dubious pleasure of being alive for that era and can attest that all those news stories at the time did not consist of journalists quoting other journalists. But I hope nothing in my comment lead you to believe that I took that scare any more seriously than the present one, since I only brought it up because 1979 provided a bit of anecdotal credibility to the scare by being pretty much the low point in the temp record of the last 3 qtrs of the 20th century, depending, of course, on which set of adjusted data you choose to embrace. You may think it strange, but it is something I find valuable to keep in mind when looking at graphs with dramatically declining trend lines for Arctic sea ice that take that year as their point of beginning.
In the spirit of friendly openness that Anthony tries to maintain here and to show that there are no hard feelings on my part, I’m willing to send you, or the charity of your choice, a check for \$100 if you can provide me a clear, uncategorical, and uncontestable answer to a simple question, which given the high degree of certain knowledge proclaimed by all those climate scientists you seem to have so much faith in, you should have little difficulty arriving at. The question is this, What is the average global temperature for 1 July 2009? Due to financial restraints the offer expires in 24 hours, but until then, Good Luck!

Editor
July 1, 2009 8:50 pm

ctm: thanks for the affirmation. I’m still serious about the beverage of your choice…. or great tickets to South Pacific… or dinner…

Walt Meier
July 1, 2009 9:16 pm

Folks,
Everyone needs to understand the difference between sea ice and ice shelves. Though the intro makes it sound like the post is relevant to the Wilkins ice shelf, the only thing discussed in the rest of the post and in the animations (nice work Jeff) is sea ice. There is a fundamental distinction between sea ice and ice shelves.
Antarctic sea ice = 1-2 meters thick, survives 2-3 years, strong seasonal growth/melt cycle, moves up to several kilometers per day with winds and ocean currents
Ice shelves = over 100 meters thick, have been in place for thousands of years, move slowly (a few kilometers per year at most) due to flow from upstream glaciers
Normal ice shelf cycle = occasionally calving of icebergs, some of which can be quite large (e.g,, the size of Rhode Island), due to normal flow from the glaciers upstream. Has routinely occurred for as long as anyone has observed Antarctica.
Wilkins ice shelf collapse = sudden “shattering” of a large area into small shards of ice due to a combination of long-term climate changes (warming temperatures) and triggering mechanisms (surface melt, ocean heat, ocean waves). This type of break-up had never been seen before the mid-1990s.
Walt Meier
National Snow and Ice Data Center

July 1, 2009 9:47 pm

Graeme Rodaughan (19:44:11) :
Evil Humanity were busily using FREON, and hurling CFCs into the Atmosphere… These caused a Gaping Hole in the OZONE Layer over Antartica.
And where is that “gaping hole” you say? There are not “gaping holes” over Antarctica. It’s another case of environmentalist abuse of language.

David Ball
July 1, 2009 10:17 pm

Great video !! Really appreciate the time spent on this. Reinforces the acronym WWNV=Well Within Natural Variation. Wonder what Stieg et al would say about this? Would they even watch it? If Gavin is worried about making a living, might I suggest he quite his job, change sides and write a “tell all” book about how his bosses made him lie under threat of dismissal. Hey, it could happen, …….. :^])

Graeme Rodaughan
July 1, 2009 10:25 pm

Nasif Nahle (21:47:23) :
Graeme Rodaughan (19:44:11) :
Evil Humanity were busily using FREON, and hurling CFCs into the Atmosphere… These caused a Gaping Hole in the OZONE Layer over Antartica.
And where is that “gaping hole” you say? There are not “gaping holes” over Antarctica. It’s another case of environmentalist abuse of language.

Hmmm – it was parody.

rogerkni
July 1, 2009 10:40 pm

“I’m sure there were larger burgs … in the last 100 years.”
Perhaps when BurgerKing offered an all-you-can-eat special in Texas.

July 1, 2009 10:59 pm

Graeme Rodaughan (22:25:18) :
Nasif Nahle (21:47:23) :
And where is that “gaping hole” you say? There are not “gaping holes” over Antarctica. It’s another case of environmentalist abuse of language.
Hmmm – it was parody.

Heh! Sorry… 🙂

Dave Wendt
July 1, 2009 11:31 pm

Wilkins ice shelf collapse = sudden “shattering” of a large area into small shards of ice due to a combination of long-term climate changes (warming temperatures) and triggering mechanisms (surface melt, ocean heat, ocean waves). This type of break-up had never been seen before the mid-1990s.
Walt Meier
National Snow and Ice Data Center
So your theory is that a 3C rise in temps, in a place where the median temp is somewhere between -20C and -30C or worse and the max temp never actually gets to 0C or even really that close, is responsible for 100 meter thick shelves of ice shattering into “small shards”. I’m a little slow, so maybe you could explain to me exactly how that works.

Pragmatic
July 2, 2009 12:03 am

Walt Meier (21:16:41) :
“This type of break-up had never been seen before the mid-1990s. ”
Walt, you might want to look at “Implications of the break-up of Wordie Ice Shelf, Antarctica for sea level” by DAVID G. VAUGHAN, Antarctic Science 5 (4): 403-408 (1993)
The paper describes the breakup as follows:
In the last few decades Wordie Ice Shelf has rapidly disintegrated to its current state; little more than a few disconnected and retreating glacier
tongues (Doake & Vaughan 1991)
Using the position of the ice front in 1966 mapped from aerial photography, they estimated that the ice shelf area decreased from about 2000 km2 in 1966 to about 700 kin2 in 1989. My analysis of more recent ERS-1 synthetic aperture radar images showing only sections of the ice shelf, indicates that the break-up is continuing at a similar pace.

Apparently breakups of this category have been seen before the mid-1990s.

Graeme Rodaughan
July 2, 2009 12:23 am

Nasif Nahle (22:59:46) :
Graeme Rodaughan (22:25:18) :
Nasif Nahle (21:47:23) :
And where is that “gaping hole” you say? There are not “gaping holes” over Antarctica. It’s another case of environmentalist abuse of language.
Hmmm – it was parody.
Heh! Sorry… 🙂

No Drama – all good. G

Kohl
July 2, 2009 1:04 am

Walt Meier said ..”This type of break-up had never been seen before the mid-1990s.”
Is that restricted to observations from satellites? Or does it include all observations?

Brian Johnson uk
July 2, 2009 1:30 am

Apparently…..
“The largest Antarctic iceberg was spotted in 1956 – it was about as big as Belgium! Now that’s a serious ice cube.”
http://www.montshire.org/minute/mm980810.html
In February 1963 I drove my Mini Cooper S down the River Thames from Old Windsor the Magna Carta Island, Runnymeade and back and later held an ice party for 450 opposite the Bells of Ouzeley pub. All the scientific journals were commenting on an approaching Ice Age around that time.

July 2, 2009 1:43 am

Interesting video. The first thing that struck me when I started watching it was the clockwise rotation you refer to which is presumably down to wind and/or ocean currents. After watching it a couple of times it appeared to me that the rotation of the eighties had moderated somewhat by the nineties – although this was purely down to eyeballing the film. Nevertheless, it appeared to be a sufficient change for even a scientific lamebrain like me to notice. I don’t know if that slowdown in rotation is significant or even relevant, but it does suggest to me that there is always more going on at the poles than just warming and cooling.

tty
July 2, 2009 2:07 am

To get some perspective on the current “collapse” of Antarctic Ice Shelves:
“The Larsen Ice Shelf extends along most of the east coast of Graham Land, and at its northern extremity nearly 1000 km2 has broken away in recent years (Koerner, 1964, p. 39). Ice shelves are confined to the southern part of the warmer west coast, and in King George VI Sound the ice front retreated about 45 km during the 1940s at both the northern and southwestern ends (Fuchs, 1951, fig. 2, 4). In East Antarctica Buinitskii (1964/1960, p. 217) notes that many of the ice shelves are becoming smaller. In the late 1950s Mellor and McKinnon (1960, p. 32) noted that the Amery Ice Shelf, which is close to the 0°C isotherm for January, was subject to greater melting than
were most other ice shelves: melt pools lay in hollows between pressure ridges, and the banding of icebergs indicated summer melt layers. This indicates that the ice shelf was subpolar in its northern parts, and thus vulnerable to climatic warming. In 1963, 11,000 km2 of the ice shelf broke away, the largest breakout ever recorded from any ice shelf (Swithinbank, 1966, p. 467).”
Mercer, J. A. 1966. “Antarctic ice and Sangamon Sea-Level”. International Association of Scientific Hydrology (IASH) General Assembly of Bern 25 Sept. – 7 Oct. 1967, Commission of Snow and Ice, Rreports and Discussions, pp. 217-225.
Note that we have practically no continuous data about Antarctica before the IGY 1957, so we can’t really expect to ever know what happened before then.

Alan the Brit
July 2, 2009 2:25 am

So, you’re now suggesting that Antarctica goes thro’ about of Global Warming followed by a bout of Global Cooling, each year, & expect us to believe it? Utter tosh!
Seriously tho’ a great video clip & prepared with great patience! Was I really detecting a slight rotational movement clockwise during ics expansion which was presumably due to ocean current circulation, or was it more imagined than seen? More impotantly, I didn’t really see a lot of difference of the 30 year timeframe between either maxima or minima.

Alan the Brit
July 2, 2009 2:26 am

Sorry chaps that should have read “a bout” not “about”! Sticky fingers due to all this heat I expect.
AtB

July 2, 2009 3:15 am

If we take the Svensmark hypothesis that as the planet warms, Antarctica cools AND VICE VERSA, then there would seem to be strong likelihood that Antarctica would have cast off a lot of its ice calves in the 1940-1975 patch. If consistent measurements of great ice calving only started after that, no doubt it would take time before calving started again. And don’t forget, not just local volcanoes – the recently warmed oceans also stream down south off the South American tip to warm up the nearby Antarctic Peninsula.
Meier says these sheets are 100m thick and thousands of years old. Yet they are said to move “only” a few kilometers each year. This suggests they are simply the continental ice sheet spreading out to the sea via glaciers (etc?) as the ice sheet pressure builds up. It doesn’t make sense otherwise, to me, to see a huge difference between massively thick ice sheets and very much thinner annual sea ice.
Jeff, hats off! Great stuff! I shall put it on my website as prominently as I can.
Now I’d like to add my own little animation, which took hold of Smokey’s yesterday’s blink comparator of sea level rise graphs and tidied it up so that the suspiciously strange difference is immediately, undeniably apparent. WUWT, for goodness sake, WUWT??
Reply: You new blink comparator is deceptive as the label doesn’t change between inverse barometer applied and not applied, which is the difference between the two graphs. (I’m not calling the use of inverse barometer adjustment correct or incorrect, just pointing out what the graphs mean.) ~ charles the moderator

July 2, 2009 3:50 am

Thanks Charles, you’re right. I’m taking it down again.
I’m actually already on the case, just downloaded all four graphs from Colorado University, finally found them. This ref doesn’t seem to be in the WUWT resources list, but I’ll check the replies and add it if not. I wanted to get to the bottom of this. Shame they don’t actually label each graph clearly. But I shall do so.

July 2, 2009 3:57 am

Should have said, silly me, leaping to premature conclusions…

July 2, 2009 5:09 am

Everyone knows that polar bears & penguins are mortal enemies. The penguins killed off the polar bears in the Antarctic & the polar bears won out in the Arctic!
Great video…will you create one for the Arctic?

pahunter3
July 2, 2009 7:31 am

Thank you for providing this video. It should silence the Al Gore worshippers once and for all in regarding ice situations in Antarctica. Meanwhile we see data from the North Pole that shows ice thickness actually getting thicker not less. The Church of Global Warming insists we not look at the mini ice age of the medieval period when grapes were grown in England and farming was done in Greenland. What will it take before the media starts reporting the truth about the myth of global warming?

Lee
July 2, 2009 7:34 am

Dave Wendt (20:41:48) :
My desktop thermometer says its 25 degrees – how does that sound as an average for the 1st of July?
I challenge any AGW’er to say their cherrypicked figure is more valid than mine!
Can I pick a charity, can I!
Excellent piece of work Jeff, effort appreciated

July 2, 2009 7:40 am

Walt Meier (21:16:41) :
Wilkins ice shelf collapse = sudden “shattering” of a large area into small shards of ice due to a combination of long-term climate changes (warming temperatures) and triggering mechanisms (surface melt, ocean heat, ocean waves). This type of break-up had never been seen before the mid-1990s.
I don’t see the evidence that long term warming has broken this ice shelf and am a natural skeptic of big claims. I have claimed no expertise in this area which is something most of the readers here are fully aware of. Anthony, generously let’s some of my work show here for the interest of his audience.
My point above is that the ice is globally tiny, the environment is incredibly dynamic and we don’t ‘really’ know how often this actually happens – there is still discussion of this in published work. As an Engineer when I think of it from an energy input perspective, the Wilkins shelf would be more influenced by a small change in current than 0.8C of warming. Even equal temp water at a very slightly increased flow rate would carry heat in at dramatically different levels. It would also have the side affect of peninsula warming BTW.
As a non-expert like most here, I appreciate the scientists like yourself stopping by to discuss these issues and am uninterested in disagreement in favor of improved understanding. Your comment leaves me some questions that you may be able to clear up.
If the ice shelf is replaced at a couple of kilometers a year, how fast would you say a wiped out shelf would rebuild in a zero anomaly environment?
After it slides back in place at some increased rate due to reduction of back pressure on the glacier, how do we know how long the shelf was there previously as the ice would appear to be very old?

Jared
July 2, 2009 7:44 am

“This type of break-up had never been seen before the mid-1990s.”
Walt Meier
National Snow and Ice Data Center
You are right Walt. It’s never been seen before the mid 1990’s. Why? Hmm, maybe because Man didn’t have satellites to see it in 1187 or 1345 or 1821. Yikes, it’s amazing how some ‘smart’ people think this little time THEY have been alive is pertinent to anything.
Hottest day on record “aka since 1880 when we started measuring”
Good thing the dust bowl happened in the 1930’s and not the 1550’s because the ‘European man’ would not believe those Native Americans and their ‘stories’ of great dust storms. ‘European man’ has never seen it happen so there for it never happened.
Does ice make a sound when it snaps if ‘European man’ is not there to hear it?

July 2, 2009 7:46 am

Stan (01:43:21) :
You saw what I also noticed. I think it’s a change in currents.
Look at the last figure in the post above which shows the pixel by pixel linear trend. You can see that the sides (in the image) of the sea ice have contracted while the top and bottom have expanded. This plot gives a clue of where to look for changes over the length of the video.

P Walker
July 2, 2009 8:38 am

Just finished reading the same post over at The Air Vent . Might I suggest that Pragmatic and tty post their comments over there . The links provided to Angelika Humbert ‘ s interview were very interesting and go a long way toward explaining the collapse . Thanks , Jeff .

smallz79(Brandon Sheffield)
July 2, 2009 8:40 am

OT, Sept 12 2009 will be a national protest on the Climate bill, Health care, All the Spending and buyouts by Obama. This event wil take place at the U.S. Capital. I wish I was able to go, but being in the military and currently deployed overseas makes it rather difficult. 🙁

fredlightfoot
July 2, 2009 9:45 am

Jeff Id,
now if only someone with a mind/intelligence like yours could become President ?

July 2, 2009 10:12 am

This blog gave knowledge for me and all humankind in order to respond to nature wisely

JohnT
July 2, 2009 11:25 am

There is obviously something else going on with that area in general. Take a look at this Sea Ice concentration image from cryosphere. How can that area be recording such low sea ice concentrations in the middle of SH coldest season?
How can that area be surrounded by 100% concentrations, yet the shelf shows 50-60% concentrations?
http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/NEWIMAGES/antarctic.seaice.color.001.png

kim
July 2, 2009 11:36 am

Hey, put up the time lapse video for Arctic Sea Ice extent and we can all observe the great blue dot, representing open ocean, appear in the area of the 1999 Gakkel ridge volcanic eruption. Satellite photos at the time show the area covered by clouds, which is exactly what would be there if there were open ocean. Analysis of the clouds should reveal whether or not they are the type to appear above open water or whether they are ordinary clouds.
But, not just anybody can get those photos, and I’m just an anonymous coward.
=============================================

kim
July 2, 2009 11:58 am

kim 11:36:37
Ah, I see you have Jeff Id’s video on display. The blue dot I’m talking about is really not so apparent on this video as one I saw last year on DotEarth. Nonetheless, this has a lot more open water in the summer of 1999 along the Siberian coast than most years.
========================================

Dave Wendt
July 2, 2009 4:21 pm

Lee (07:34:30) :
Dave Wendt (20:41:48) :
My desktop thermometer says its 25 degrees – how does that sound as an average for the 1st of July?
I challenge any AGW’er to say their cherrypicked figure is more valid than mine!
Can I pick a charity, can I!
The. perhaps to subtly ironic for its’ intended audience, point of my question was that if the “settled science” of climatology cannot provide an accurate and noncontroversial answer for what the average global temp is right here, right now or in fact for any point in the past what earthly reason would there be to suppose that they can provide a value for that number for a century from now that should be treated with anything except universal derision.

George E. Smith
July 2, 2009 4:37 pm

“”” Walt Meier (21:16:41) :
Folks,
Wilkins ice shelf collapse = sudden “shattering” of a large area into small shards of ice due to a combination of long-term climate changes (warming temperatures) and triggering mechanisms (surface melt, ocean heat, ocean waves). This type of break-up had never been seen before the mid-1990s.
Walt Meier
National Snow and Ice Data Center “””
Well Walt perhaps you need to contact Svend Hendriksen in Greenland, and ask him to send you that photo that shows an equally large or larger section of Wilkins that clealy broke up around fifty years ago; which would have been long before your mid ninetlies.
Now I’m not going to dispute your claim that you hadn’t seen it before the mid nineties; let’s see it was the late nineties when the first polar orbit satellites went up wasn’t it ? So I can see that nobody would have seen it back then; but Svend can sure provide you with clear photographic evidence, that in fact it most crertainly DID break up in exactly the same way long before the mid nineties.
Lack of evidence, is not evidence of lack. If Svend can’t send you the photograph he sent me, then perhaps I can figure out how to send it to you.
George

Don S.
July 2, 2009 8:44 pm

Dave Wendt
Durn, Dave, you have turned all mean lately. Using actual facts to rebut the snide Pete W. and the smug Meier is pushing the boundaries of the rules. Good on yer. Time to take off the gloves.

CBowen
July 3, 2009 6:25 am

After reviewing the video several times I couldn’t help but notice the significant difference between ice melt in the Ross Ice Shelf area. The melt generally (with the exception of two years) starts closer to the land mass and progresses seaward. Compared to the rest of ice, which melts from seaward toward the land mass. My questions are:
1. Is there solar heating of the land mass on this southern facing side which causes this effect (south facing location)?
2. Is the depth of the water in this area significantly different to allow for faster warming during summer?
3. Are there unique ocean driven currents which result in faster melting along the shore.
Great video. Another nail in the coffin of AGW.

July 4, 2009 6:16 am

in looking at the site of the break up there seems to be evidence of shock waves inland , inice if you prefer, can be seen cracks like crevasses and when you look at the bay to the North one can see that the ice which was attched to the land has moved away indicating shock waves.
The series of photos is incomplete as one needs two at least days before the event , there is enough in the pictures to indicate a mass of ice enterring the bay and smashing into the floating ice .The winds and currents would indicate this as possible and bearing in mind the geography of the area a regular event. The refreezing of the sea shows that the temperatures are very unwarm .The series of events being a lump of ice from the south enters the bay and hits the floating ice and shatters the shock causes the land based ice to shatter and the transmits the shock waves through the floating glacier hence the cracks and deplacement of the floating ice to the north

July 4, 2009 6:23 am

If you look at the Wilkins Ice Shelf and Graham land as a whole it is lucky or even unlucky bto be there The northermost border of the Antarctic continent is in the roaring forties so contunally beset by very strong winds natural accidents due to wind and current must be legion and recently is our first chance to observe these events from satelite we have no statistics to go on , it is all new .

Dave
July 5, 2009 8:55 am

@Jared (07:44:22) :
“This type of break-up had never been seen before the mid-1990s.”
Walt Meier
National Snow and Ice Data Center
@George E. Smith (16:37:46) :
“”” Walt Meier (21:16:41) :
Thanks to Jared and George. With all due respect, Dr. Meier, your statement is embarrassingly short-sighted, and calls into question your ability to be self-critical.

Joe
July 5, 2009 8:04 pm

Andy,
I am fascinated by the 1998 blip in the average global temperature as seen by the two satellite systems, something you wrote about a few weeks ago. Since such a large but short pulse in the Earth’s thermal state would involve an incredible amount of energy, my first impression as an instrumentation engineer is that both measurement systems experienced instrument error, as unlikely as that may seem. However, close examination of the melt period of the Weddell Sea in 1998 in your animation showed it to be qualitatively unlike any of the other years before or after. What’s up with that? And, what about that pulse?

July 5, 2009 9:08 pm

I found my way here, how…I don’t recall…surfing… and the animation is amazing…
Up until I saw this, I was a believer in the Human Created Global Warming Scenario…
WOW…if temps don’t go above zero…how can “Global Warming” cause warming there?
You’ve given me a new “reality”…Keep up the great work…AMAZING STUFF…
I do have a question, has anyone compared earthquake activity to any of the break ups? Someone mentioned the techtonic plates down there…and wasn’t that Indian Ocean Quake and the resultant Tsunami huge and deep?
I read that it was so strong that the Earth moved 1 degree on its axis…I haven’t been able to find the article on that for a while…
Everyone, including myself noticed the clockwise rotation…I’m not a scientist…but is the Earth’s rotation a possible contributor to what we see?
It seems there are so many more possible alternative “reasons” for what’s happening…and so much “mis-information”…
I will share this site with all the blogs I’m on…hopefully this can be honestly researched before we all go down that “rabbit hole”…again…

July 6, 2009 1:40 am

Further to my cmmunication there are in the Antarctic huge tabular icebergs which become detached from places such as the Ross Iceshelf and these can reach 100 metres above the surface of the sea , the rampaging of the monoliths in their journies must cause all sorts of havoc .In the aerial photos taken after the event huge pieces of ice were to be seen these look to be from a tabular berg which to some degree broken up .Thewhole of Graham Land looks to be a fair target for whatever is in the grasp of currents and the wind in fact these bergs can be carried against the wind by the sea currents obviously an exciting place to be but dont go there for fine weather !

JMAS
July 7, 2009 12:53 pm

Are those data real?
It comes on my theory.

August 14, 2009 1:53 am

Reading the usual suspects horror stories about the Antarctic I studied your photos and something comes to mind and that is the effect or otherwise of El Nino or La Ninea or whatever .I understand that these phenomena affect or are the effect of warming in the Pacific Ocean . This being so the currents flowing past the Antarctic Peninsula are going to have an effect . I believe that there is the Humboldt Current which is very cold running up the West Coast of South America from the Southern Ocean and that this is part of the whole presentation
The panic mongers warn us about sea levels due to melting ice , if Mr Archimedes is correct this is a lie as the ice is floating .
This years race to the South Pole experienced real summer temperatures ,-40° takes your breath away .
The same panic mongers tell us that the world poulation will rise to six billion .The World is already in trouble with water , or the lack of it .Boreholes are running dry . Drinking water is one thing but irrigation another matter , we are on the limit .