Antarctica – warming, ice melting – not yet

I thought it might be time for an update on this.

SMH_antarctica_headline

Earlier this year we had the big news that even though everything else says otherwise, the statistical wizards of Steig et al (with a cameo appearance by stat-stickster Michael Mann) managed to make Antarctica show a warming trend.

At left here’s the headline from the Sydney Morning Herald January 20th 2009, introducing Steig’s results.

Gosh. This new warm picture proves it. Right? Colors don’t lie. They quote Dr. Steig who says:

“The thing you hear all the time is that Antarctica is cooling. But it’s more complex than that,” Professor Steig said. “Antarctica isn’t warming at the same rate everywhere and, while some areas have been cooling for a long time, the evidence shows the continent as a whole is getting warmer.”

Yes it is more complex than that. A part of that complex story is emerging this month. Right about the time when things should start warming up in Antarctica due to their onset of spring, it seems to be stalled according to one scientist on the ground there who writes ICE STORIES: dispatches from polar scientists (emphasis mine):

MCMURDO STATION, ANTARCTICA– Wednesday, September 16, 2009. It has been a slow, and sometimes frustrating, effort to get our first successful science flight of the project, but we did succeed last night. Before discussing that flight I’d like to write about some of the hurdles we have had to overcome to get to this point.

The first obstacle, and the one least in our control, was the weather. The Aerosonde unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been flown in temperatures as cold as -30 degrees C (-22 deg F), and this was the intended minimum operating temperature for this project.

Prior to coming to Antarctica one of the members of my research group, Shelley Knuth, analyzed 14 years of automatic weather station data from a weather station located at the Pegasus runway that we are using for our UAV flights.

Based on her analysis the temperature at Pegasus is above -30 degrees C for approximately 50% of the time in September, and is below -40 degrees C (which is also -40 degrees F) only 9% of the time in September on average. Of course the weather for any given month rarely follows the average, and this September has been a colder than average September, with most days up until the past few days having temperatures below -30 degrees C at Pegasus, and many days having temperatures below -40 degrees C. This made our attempts to fly the Aerosondes very difficult.

Yes, yes, I know It’s weather, not climate. Hold the caterwauling. But please, also have a look at the NSIDC graph of sea ice for Antarctica. Sea ice forms around the warmer periphery of the continent, not in the cold continental center where Amundsen-Scott base is located. There’s quite the uptick in Antarctic sea ice when the slope should begin heading downward:

click for larger image

click for larger image

While the uptick now is interesting, the real news is the change in extent. Quite a difference from 2008, about 1 million square kilometers more than this time last year, and well above average. The gain in Antarctica extent this year is 2 times that of the gain in the Arctic at 500,000 square kilometers.

Since the wisdom in the press headline is that “Antarctica is melting – sell the beach house”, but we see Antarctic ice increasing, one can only conclude that like Steigs upside down thermometers, we must also have upside down ice sensors, and the ice is actually less than last year. I’m sure somebody can prove that statistically.

Or, the headlines could just be bullpuckey from the press. Which is it? Inquiring minds want to know. If you need a look a how the media spins the melt season in Antarctica, look no further than this CBS News report from Scott Pelley.

Just for fun; a couple of weather forecasts from Weather Underground. Looks like they may finally get the plane launched at McMurdo.

Amundsen-Scott Base at the South Pole:

Admusen-Scott_5day_forecast

McMurdo Base:

McMurdo_5day_forecast

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The press does not create “bullpuckey”. That would require both knowledge and effort. Rather, the press picks up the “bullpuckey” deposited by others and throws it in your direction. The press accepts no responsibility for the “bullpuckey” it hurls around, since it is just the messenger. The press also appears to have allowed all of its vaunted “bullpuckey’ detectors to fall into the same state of disrepair as the US network of surface temperature measurement stations. It is wise to assume that nothing sent in your direction by the press can safely be picked up by its clean end. 🙂

MikeC

Even when there is more ice we have to remember that changes in the northern ice pack are a product of wind, not temperature.

Mark Fawcett

There’s lies, damn lies and statistics…
I do love it when old m. nature sticks two fingers (well one for all you non UK types) up at the supremely knowledgeable beings that we are :o)
Repeat after me: The science is settled, the science is settled, the science is settled.
Can you get a frostbitten brain I wonder – might help explain that original paper…
Cheers
Mark

deadwood

Drs. Steig and Mann are right now hard at work “correcting” the faulty temperatures in Antarctica. Their spokesman, Dr. Sooja Caliente of the IPCC Polar Statistical Institute assures readers that the team will have completed their difficult calculations in time for the Copenhagen Climate Conference.

Flanagan

Two things:
1- The sea ice extent in Antarctica is high this year, was low last year (see the graph). It’s fluctuating without any positive or negative trend.
2- The Antarctic is loosing 200 Gt of ice each year…
E. Rignot, J. Bamber, M. van den Broeke, C. Davis, Y. Li, W. van de Berg, E. van Meijgaard (2008) Recent mass loss of the Antarctic Ice Sheet from dynamic thinning, Nature Geoscience
So how exactly is this compatible with the above assertion that “ice is not melting” in Antarctica?
REPLY: Well Flanagan, look around. Some areas are losing mass, some are gaining:
http://www.physorg.com/news4180.html
or this one, contrasting what was thought to be losses
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/295/5554/476
The whole mass loss “Yes it is! No it isn’t!” schoolyard fight over Antarctic ice mass balance isn’t very convincing. You quote a loss of 200 GT out of the whole mass of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Hmmm what I found most interesting is that in all of the studies I researched, none seem to give the figure in relation to the total mass for the Antarctic Ice sheet. For example this one from NASA:
http://www.csr.utexas.edu/GRACE/publications/press/012308_jpl.pdf
“The team found that the net loss of ice mass from Antarctica increased from 112 (plus or minus 91)
gigatonnes a year in 1996 to 196 (plus or minus 92) gigatonnes a year in 2006.”
Wow such accuracy in measurement. At least they have the honesty to show error bands.
A commenter Ed Ring at Eco World, sums it up nicely (emphasis mine):

It isn’t easy to find information on the total land-based ice mass on Antarctica, but if we accept the claim that sea levels would rise 61 meters if 100% of it melted, we can impute the mass. There are 335 million square kilometers of ocean on the planet, so you can easily calculate the ice mass of Antarctica must be about 20.5 million gigatons. A net loss of 150 gigatons against a mass of 20.5 million gigatons is nothing. It is beyond the rounding error – certainly beyond the capability of the Grace satellites to accurately record.

Even the Eco World blog operator doesn’t believe there’s a problem:

“In the March 25 2008 issue of EOS, there was a News item by Marco Tedesco titled “Updated 2008 Surface snowmelt Trends in Antarctica” (subscribers only). It reports the following:
Surface snowmelt in Antarctica in 2008, as derived from spaceborne passive microwave observations at 19.35 gigahertz, was 40% below the average of the period 1987–2007. The melting index (MI, a measure of where melting occurred and for how long) in 2008 was the second-smallest value in the 1987–2008 period, with 3,465,625 square kilometers times days (km2 × days) against the average value of 8,407,531 km2 × days (Figure 1a). Melt extent (ME, the extent of the area subject to melting) in 2008 set a new minimum with 297,500 square kilometers, against an average value of approximately 861,812 square kilometers.”
This evidence suggests that Antarctica, where 90% of the land based ice in the world resides, is increasing in mass. And this fact is ignored or downplayed in virtually every mainstream report available today, and indeed the mainstream press continues to infer that Antarctica is melting at an alarming rate. But on balance, the ice mass in Antarctica is not melting, it is probably getting bigger.
As Pielke wrote me earlier this week, “My views have not changed… I agree that the alarmist view being widely disseminated is not supported by the science.”

Not to worry Flanagan. Your view is simply suffering from the annual “ice shelf cracks off a berg everybody freaks out kabuki MSM theater”. Will we get to see a frantic repeat of this photo again this year?
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/04/26/media-addicted-to-melt-when-it-it-should-be-crack/
Spin from Reuters: Over 500,000 square kilometers gained is just “a bit”; while 55 square kilometers broken away was “huge”
http://tomnelson.blogspot.com/2009/09/spin-from-reuters-over-500000-square.html
As for your statement, ” It’s fluctuating without any positive or negative trend.” Wrong again Flanagan.
There is a positive trend in SH sea ice anomaly:
http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/current.anom.south.jpg
or this view with a trend line if you like
http://noconsensus.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/south-ice-anomaly1.jpg
But don’t take my word for it (since I never take yours) read what others have to say:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/08/27/why-the-greenland-and-antarctic-ice-sheets-are-not-collapsing/
and the paper
http://icecap.us/images/uploads/OllierPaine-NoIceSheetCollapse-AIGNewsAug.2009.pdf
So yes Flanagan, your argument relies on media hype coupled with measurements that are not convincing and have large error bands, plus are miniscule in comparison to total mass.
To paraphrase Ed Ring using your 200 GT number: “A net loss of 200 gigatons against a mass of 20.5 million gigatons is nothing.
Not alarming. Go work for SMH or CBS News writing headines, you’d be good at it.
– Anthony

Mark Wagner

Once again, we confuse facts with reality.
Facts: Antarctic temps aren’t increasing, ice is setting records for maximum, modeled projections aren’t occurring.
Reality: “They” create the perception that the poles are melting, therefore they must be melting and we must “do something.”
And politicians everywhere respond to perception, not facts.

pwl

So it looks like a massive 2,500,000 square kilometers of new ice. As Darth Vader said to Luke in the “Empire Strikes Back”, “impressive, most impressive”.
I guess it’s a WHITE OUT this year in the antarctic!!! Ha ha… great film too!!!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whiteout_%282009_film%29

So where does that put 2009 in terms of the last few years when arctic and antarctic ice totals are added up? Graphs please.

INGSOC

Don’t forget this link from a year ago about the other pole;
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/06/080620-north-pole.html
Funny how we hear so little about the South pole these days. I wonder why? The North will be thrown under the bus soon as well, as the ice is increasing there too.

J.Hansford

It is my sad duty to inform you, that after a long illness, journalism is now dead….. Please send flowers.

deadwood (10:33:09)
…but, not in time for anyone else to check their numbers, assuming they are even willing to release them.
🙂

jeroen

You can’t tell if a gigantic continent is warming the last 50 years with so little weather stations.

mark twain

antonny, please korrekt this:
Quite a difference from 2008, about 2 million square kilometers more than this time last year, and well above average. The gain in Antarctica extent this year is 4 times that of the gain in the Arctic at 500,000 square kilometers
ist about 1 million (look at the graph) and then 2 times more…
greetings from austria, we have some positive mass balances in alps glaciers this year…
mark
REPLY: Thanks, I fixed that typo. – Anthony

Ben P

Would it be possible/fruitful to produce an analysis of sea ice extent limited to the regions that Steig et al claim are warming?

Global sea ice vs Northern Hemisphere & Southern Hemisphere sea ice: click.
Global sea ice is increasing.

Adam from Kansas

They have to get rid of the “some areas have been cooling for a long time” to make it sound compelling, it goes against the laws of AGW 😛
Seriously, until Amundsen actually gets above the freezing mark enough to melt their snow cover I wouldn’t panic.

bryan

RE: MikeC (10:25:45) :
Even when there is more ice we have to remember that changes in the northern ice pack are a product of wind, not temperature.
Wind alone can not melt ocean sheet ice. It takes heat to melt ice, either increasing air temperature or increasing ocean temperature. Heat is required to melt and break-up ice sheets. The wind only allows for the transport of the destabilized, melted, & fractured ice away from the ice sheet fringes. Both heat and wind are required to melt and remove the Arctic Ocean ice sheet.

deadwood (10:33:09) :
I’m all in favor of bashing the press which seems to have lost the ability to think for itself, but Dr. Steig had an interesting idea and the gumption to test it. If the results didn’t stand up to the scrutiny it was given over at the Air Vent, well, that’s science. Those guys took the paper apart piece by piece and may know it even better than Dr. Steig does by now, and they have deliberately refused to suggest any malfeasance was involved. Maybe we should do the same and stick to the science and policy implications.
And if that ice extent doesn’t kick over in a few days into melt mode, maybe we should start questioning their data gathering techniques. If the data is inaccurate, how the heck can we make policy to deal with situations we don’t know the dimensions of? If the ice extent measurements ARE correct…. it’s worse than we thought!

Retired Engineer

If the temperature is still below freezing even after it rises a bit, how does that melt the ice? There has to be a finite amount of ice that can accumulate over land, so if more builds up, it has to force some out over the ocean. Where it could well break off.
Living 6000 feet above sea level, I’m not really concerned. 🙂 (cheap icon)
Alarmists will cause more grief than the things they alarm about.

MattN

Cooling is the new warming….

Stu

Flanagan-
You said,
“1- The sea ice extent in Antarctica is high this year, was low last year (see the graph). It’s fluctuating without any positive or negative trend.”
If you accept 2 years as evidence of no trend, then do you also accept that the gains seen in the arctic over the last 2 years is evidence of an upwards trend?

Flanagan (10:33:15) :
comparing two years to find (or fail to find) a trend and throwing big numbers around without context is sloppy (at best!). What did you do, short home heating oil and go long on Carbon Credits?
Anthony, replies like that should be featured on the World Wrestling Federation on one of their Smackdown productions… : )

Manfred

while Steig*s bad science method showed an increase in temperature over the last 60 years, there was an decrease over the last 50 year.
the latter result – though not published by Steig – is much more important regarding GHG.

Should we panic yet?:
ClickA
ClickB
ClickC
Clicky

Philip_B

The intense low pressures systems that constitute the circumpolar vortex appeared to have strengthened over the last few decades.
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/296/5569/895
The circumpolar vortex is due to the intense cold over Antarctica and the atmospheric flows it produces.
http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/7p.html
A cooling Antarctica would produce a more intense Antarctic polar vortex and draw in more warmer mid-latitude air, which would explain why the Antarctic Peninsula has apparently warmed.
However, it is important to understand that both a cooling Antarctica and a warmer Antarctic Peninsula are both evidence that more heat is being lost to space from Antarctica and hence the SH’s/Earth’s climate is cooling.
The cause may well be the so called ozone hole.
So while declining summer sea ice in the NH is probably due to particulate pollution, increasing winter sea ice in the SH is a sign the climate is cooling.
BTW ozone is a greenhouse gas that has declined over the last 30 years. It would be ironic to say the least if GHG driven climate change turned out to be a cooling climate due to declining levels of ozone.
More on Ozone as a GHG
http://www.ghgonline.org/otherstropozone.htm

Paul Vaughan

Re: Flanagan (10:33:15)
Flip one or the other over for comparison:
1) http://i41.tinypic.com/29zxus7.jpg [credit: Bob Tisdale]
2) Figure 7 here:
Sidorenkov, N.S. (2005). Physics of the Earth’s rotation instabilities. Astronomical and Astrophysical Transactions 24(5), 425-439.
http://images.astronet.ru/pubd/2008/09/28/0001230882/425-439.pdf
Also suggested: Read Yu.V. Barkin.
I get stunned that so few mention the very clear decadal/multi-decadal north-south oscillations. My guess is that many people don’t take into account the high latitude of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) (and erroneously expect that everything should be symmetric about the equator). So many miles to go with this discussion…

d

This makes no sense. the “scientists” say penguins are dying because the krill they eat need ice. the ice extent has not gone done one bit so why are the penguins dying. maybe because the scientists have “tagged” 70,000 and unknowingly interfered with normal penguin functions. who knows but their argument doesn’t go with the satellite evidence.

Chris Schoneveld

Anthony,
Flanagan just likes the attention from you and others each time he makes his unsustainable assertions. Admittedly, the responses make this blog lively and entertaining.

Dave Wendt

Looking at his graph of SH sea ice area over at CT http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/current.area.south.jpg
it appears that, if the current year’s ice puts on just a smidgen more area and noses ahead of 1998, we would have 4 of the top 6 values for ice area “in the historic record” occurring in the last five years. Even if we don’t slip past ’98 we’re looking at 4 of the top 7, though I’m going by eye ball analysis and ’80 and ’81 could still be in the running at this point. I’m sure the lads already have a press release all typed up in their computers and are waiting breathlessly to hit the send button should it occur.

davidc

“bryan (11:51:15) :
RE: MikeC (10:25:45) :
Even when there is more ice we have to remember that changes in the northern ice pack are a product of wind, not temperature.
Wind alone can not melt ocean sheet ice. It takes heat to melt ice, either increasing air temperature or increasing ocean temperature”
For definition see:
http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm
“The sea-ice extent is calculated as the areal sum of sea ice covering the ocean where sea-ice concentration (SIC) exceeds 15%.”
So if an area has 16% ice and wind in the appropriate direction removes enough ice to reduce this area to 14% there is a decrease in extent. No melting needed.

MikeC

At 11;51;15 bryan said:
“Wind alone can not melt ocean sheet ice. It takes heat to melt ice, either increasing air temperature or increasing ocean temperature. Heat is required to melt and break-up ice sheets. The wind only allows for the transport of the destabilized, melted, & fractured ice away from the ice sheet fringes. Both heat and wind are required to melt and remove the Arctic Ocean ice sheet.”
bryan, please stop wasting my time. The wind blows it into warmer waters. When weather patterns persist for several years you have a reduction in older ice resulting in reduced ice volume, leading to thinner ice that is moved about even faster by the wind. That’s why you have decadal changes in the Arctic Oscillation. Precipitation also plays a role.

Flanagan

Thanks anthony for the answer
However, could you please point me toward more recent esitmate showing there’s no net loss of Antarctic ice shelf mass? The science study you mentioned, talking about some doubt over this, is 6 years older than the one I’m mentioning. 6 years, that’s a lot for research! The more recent NASA study you link to undoubtly gives an accelerating loss of mass – even including the error bars.
Concerning the sea ice “growing”, here is my problem, examplified on the August anomaly (maxima)
http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/s_plot_hires.png
the error on the slope is even larger than the slope itself! And August is the month where the confidence level is the highest… So one could say there’s a 0.4% annual increase at +-0.5%? Nonsense.
The rest of your links, alas, are simply blog science and op-eds. no real science.
Please for the rest of people here: do some research before qualifying my assertions as “unsustainable”.
REPLY: OK then you are on record saying NSIDC data is nonsense. So are the ice mass measurements and the worries from them, same problem, error is greater than the signal. As for the request you make, do it yourself, I’m not keen on doing work for you. You mention 6 years, but that assumes that the recent work is better. In normal science that might be true, but given the trend of polarization and politicization of climate science, I have less trust in more recent work that addresses these issues.
And you still haven’t addressed why 200 GT annual loss against 20 million GT is an issue to worry about. At that rate of loss it will take 100,000 years for the Antarctic to be gone assuming the trend continues. By then many other climate forcings like Milankovitch cycles will have kicked in. I’m not worried about your worries.
And given just a few years of measurements how do you know its not simply noise? As you point out, NSIDC’s own trend is below the noise band of satellite measurement. There’s been no physical weighing of the ice mass, it’s all estimates from sat/radar imaging with very little historical data.
I’m coming to Brussels soon by invitation. Don’t be surprised if I show up at your office at the University for a photo op. I’ll bring a funny hat for you to wear. – Anthony

Chris Schoneveld (13:07:01) :
You’re suggesting Flanagan is a masochist? Well, I suppose the attention he gets here beats having no attention at all…. wasn’t there a song lyric a long while ago about how “… the pain let me know I was still alive…”?

MikeC

And wind doesn’t just move the fringes, it moves the whole ice sheet. That’s why the North Pole station started out at 90 degrees and moved to below 83 degrees lattitude this year since April

Tom P

Smokey,
Glad to see you’re around.
I cleared up your (rather unnecessary) uncertainties concerning the bet you offered on IPCC predictions – see my 23:43:56 posting on 19 09 2009 here:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/09/14/research-claim-dropping-co2-caused-formation-of-antarctic-ice-cap/
All that remains is for us to agree the stake. I suggested $1000, so it’s your move now. I hope we can forget your last week of stalling and you’re finally ready to stand behind your own bet.

metnav

I wintered at McMurdo Station this year. We had back to back storms that dumped almost 7 feet of snow on our station. It took weeks to clear out that mess. Late August at Pegasus Airfield (ICAO Identifier: NZPG) is horribly cold. -48 F one day late August this year if I remember correctly.

Paul Vaughan

Flanagan (13:25:08) ” http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/s_plot_hires.png
Tamino ran an article criticizing the use of such manipulated aspect-ratios in graphs not too long ago. I agree with him on that point. The authors failure to choose a sensible y-axis-scale succeeds only in drawing attention to motives.
Flanagan (13:25:08) “the error on the slope is even larger than the slope itself!”
The errors are based on untenable assumptions. Whether there is warming or cooling, linear extrapolation and assumptions of randomness are not the answer.

Tom P

Anthony,
The proportional mass loss seen is tiny. But GRACE can make it out using differential measurements between a pair of satellites. After all GRACE is measuring such changes against the gravity of the entire mass of the Earth, not just the Antarctica ice mass!
The issue is the sea-level rise that comes from that loss, and as the volume of the ice is so large these become significant even if the ice loss is small. A 1% loss gives a two-feet increase in sea level.
The GRACE data indicate that the sea-level rise from this mass loss increased from 0.3 to 0.5 mm a year from 1996 to 2006, now close to the sea-level rise from Greenland ice loss. It all depends on how the trend works out to see if this is a real problem. I don’t think GRACE is the best tool in the short term for working out these trends to the accuracy required to quantify any threat here.
I certainly agree with your criticism of the errors. 110 +/- 90 to 200 +/- 90 gigatonnes a year is really all the precision the errors can justify. But the satellites of GRACE are determining to above a 95% confidence level that the Antarctic is losing ice.

Philip_B

Paul Vaughan (14:25:39) :
Flanagan (13:25:08) ” http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/s_plot_hires.png
The authors failure to choose a sensible y-axis-scale succeeds only in drawing attention to motives.

I was going to make the same point. Whenever, someone uses a non-standard graphic presentation without clearly explaining why, I assume this is an attempt to deceive me.

Stephen Wilde

Changes in the northern ice pack are primariy a consequence of the temperature of the water flowing into the Arctic Circle from El Nino events (or the lack of them) some 5 to 10 years earlier.
A secondary influence is wind but that depends on the position of the air circulation systems which are closely linked to the average global rate of oceanic energy emission with a lag of only a few weeks.
The sun is too low to have a significant effect even in the Arctic summer but it does have some effect.
At present we have a falling temperature of water flowing into the Arctic Circle because there has been a recent powerful cooling La Nina event which has led to a cooling of the other oceans as the effect spreads slowly around the planet.
In the meantime we have a moderate El Nino which has pushed the air circulation systems somewhat poleward but not as far as during the warming spell from 1975 to 2000. This effect is temporarily opposing the effect of the cooler water reaching the Arctic Ocean but not by much.
The sun is weaker than it has been for a century but that is not a large enough influence to have much effect at this stage.
The stage remains set for a substantial energy loss from the northern continents this winter. Only a very powerful El Nino will assist us. I see that such an El Nino was predicted by warming proponents for this year but so far it has failed to materialise.
The global air temperature is primarily dependent on the rate of energy release from the oceans. If the energy release from the oceans fails to match the energy loss from air to space we will see cooling of the air. To achieve warming of the air we have to get more energy released by the oceans than is lost to space.
I have previously suggested that the average latitudinal position of all the air circulation systems is the best indicator of net global warming or net global cooling but that is hard to measure
I think I can now be more specific.
The latitudinal position of the ITCZ can serve as a proxy for the average latitudinal position of all the air circulation systems.
There is a position at which it represents neither net warming nor net cooling. We do not yet know what that position is but it is north of the equator because there is more ocean in the southern hemisphere and the oceans set the point of balance. The rate of oceanic energy release dictates the size of the equatorial air masses.
During the recent warming period the ITCZ drifted further north from the equator. During the Little Ice Age it was approximately on the equator. I understand that it has recently drifted a little closer to the equator.
All we have to do is get the sequence of events in the right order and then consider the scale of the different inputs.
The fact is that oceanic energy release varies and that is the primary climate driver on at least up to century time scales. Solar influences operate on longer time scales but I am undecided as to whether they can have an effect over a couple of solar cycles. I think they do but Leif has made me doubtful.
Oceanic energy release operates on two time scales. Through ocean circulation over many (possibly 5 to 10) years and through the air in a matter of weeks.
Getting the balance right between the oceanic timescale and the air timescale is key and the movement of the ITCZ helps with the diagnosis.
The scale and timing of the solar effect needs further consideration.
Needless to say it seems that in the face of these natural forcings any change in quantities of GHGs seems to be unworthy of consideration.

Philip_B

Wind alone can not melt ocean sheet ice.
Actually it can. The kinetic energy imparted to the ice by the wind becomes thermal energy (heat) when the ice stops. Of course the effect is small compared to other sources of melt.

Tenuc

Flanagan (10:33:15) :
“1- The sea ice extent in Antarctica is high this year, was low last year (see the graph). It’s fluctuating without any positive or negative trend.”
Reply: The reason there is no trend is that the amount of ice at any one time is the product of a mass of inter-connected climate mechanisms. As our climate is a dynamc chaotic system, trying to find linear trends is nonsensical, and any trends you see are dependent on time period and your personal beliefs – therefore meaningless.
Flanagan (10:33:15) :
“2- The Antarctic is losing 200 Gt of ice each year…”
Reply: Do you really believe that it is possible to measure the volume of Antartic ice to an accuracy of +/-200Gt at any moment in time? If you really believe it, I wish you’d send me some of the stuff your smoking – must be good!

rbateman

Sell the Beach House. Really.
The ice will pile up and the sea level will drop, and your beach house will no longer be as short stroll to the water.
Or nothing will change except the price of your real estate will plummet, and you might as well get what you can for it.
I find it very strange that all the possibilities are not covered.
It seems to me that the Weather Pattern is not the only thing stuck in Lodi.

David Segesta

Sensationalism sells. That’s at least part of the reason why the media hypes the AGW theory. A headline like this sells papers:
“Earth’s temperatures rising alarmingly fast. We’re all gonna die!”
On the other hand a more realistic headline like;
“Earth’s temperature about the same as it was 100 years ago. Ho hum.”
That doesn’t sell papers.
Now what happens if the media gets the idea the earth is cooling. I can picture the headline:
“Earth cooling alarmingly fast. We’re all gonna freeze to death!”
I guess that would sell papers too.

Paul Vaughan

Interesting:
Stephen Wilde (15:05:27) “The latitudinal position of the ITCZ can serve as a proxy for the average latitudinal position of all the air circulation systems.
There is a position at which it represents neither net warming nor net cooling. We do not yet know what that position is but it is north of the equator because there is more ocean in the southern hemisphere and the oceans set the point of balance. The rate of oceanic energy release dictates the size of the equatorial air masses.
During the recent warming period the ITCZ drifted further north from the equator. During the Little Ice Age it was approximately on the equator. I understand that it has recently drifted a little closer to the equator.”

TP (13:45:24), my reading comprehension-challenged, MWP-denying, gambling addicted friend. How are you doing?
You’ve repeatedly pestered everyone on this site with offers and counter-offers of wagers, and you’ve labeled everyone who declined to take your [stacked-deck] weather bets as having ‘no trousers.’ You’re not Joe Romm in drag, are you?
And then you never replied to my question, if you’d be willing to take a two hundred thousand dollar bet. Cash immediately payable up front; Anthony holds the money. I’ll clearly define the terms as I understand them, you can agree or not.
Enough of this silliness, it was fun at first but you’ve been at it for too long, and you’re making it personal. Stick to the science, like your recent denying of the MWP, or whatever your current vision is. If you want to bet on the weather, Las Vegas is waiting. But while it’s on my mind, I’d like to provide some personal history. Pay attention to the business ethics aspect, that’s where you’re a little weak:
I’ve written well over a hundred very detailed contracts in my business life. It may surprise you, but for any agreement to be valid, there must be what is called a clear “meeting of the minds.” All the details must be worked out and agreed to; if one party changes anything — even one word — there is no contract. Both parties must explicitly agree to all terms and conditions. Under the Statute of Frauds, any contract of $1,000 or more must be signed and in writing.
What you’re doing here, my impotent friend, is letting yourself believe that there is a contract in force when there’s not; you keep making changes, adding conditions, specifying rules, amounts, ‘clearing up’ things, etc. I suppose I assumed that you understood how it works, so maybe it’s my fault. But there is a big element of “gotcha!” in your posts, telling anyone who doesn’t bet with you that their manhood is in question. I understand that you’ve lost the CO2=AGW debate, and the MWP argument, and now you’re trying to save face. But really, pestering everyone for having ‘no trousers’ if they don’t bet with you on the weather isn’t appropriate for the “Best Science” site [sorry about that, Gavin, better luck next year].
I had thought that by now you would have MovedOn, but your On/Off switch seems to be wired around with a shunt; typical behavior by gambling addicts. Help is available: 1-800-GAMBLING. No kidding.
Kindly stick to the subject matter, in this case, Antarctica. Maybe you can try answering the links I posted here @12:34:49. Better yet, tell me more about your theory that the MWP was colder than now. That should be good fun.
Flanagan,
I’m impressed! You’re the only guy I know who can be wrong in five different languages.

C. Paul Barreira

As I wrote somewhere last week, whenever I hear the phrase ‘scientists say’ I switch off. Lysenko rules. Perhaps it will change someday but no time soon I think.

MikeC

Steven Wilde,
Eh? What is all this mumbo jumbo based on? The wind pushes the entire ice sheet past Greenland where the sheet breaks up and melts. For discussion purposes, this makes the Alaska and Eastern Russia side of the sheet the back side of the sheet. The NOAA has a nice Arctic Theme Page with plots of the North Pole Station’s location plotted by the Argo system. It moved nearly 8 degrees lattitude twards the south. That is roughly half of the ice sheet getting pushed into warmer waters this year since April. The strength of the winds and the thickness of the ice are the major factors in how much ice will dissappear in a year (excluding my ignorance of the precipitation numbers during the same time, but if there is more precipitation in a year, you will have more ice for the wind to push. Lets include more cloudiness during the summer which will allow refreezing to start earlier). Now lets go back to the back side of the ice sheet. If temperatures are high enough, as they are in August, then no ice will re-form until temps drop. I doubt that heating caused by an El Nino 5 or 10 years before would cause enough changes in the Norwegian Current’s temps to melt the ice in place farther into the ice sheet (but if you run into any data showing correlation and a lag between ENSO and Norwegian Current temps or speed, please share). That’s why it takes a decades for the ice to thin. If the winds are blowing hard for 20 years, the older ice finally gets pushed out, making it easier for the newer and thinner ice behind it (currently 1-2 years old) to be pushed out of the arctic. But when the winds slow down for 20 or so years, then the ice slows down and gets thicker and older before it is finally pushed past Greenland.

a jones

Oh gosh! We have a set of measurements, Grace, which are well inside the limits of error of the system.
So apparently we can now deduce from a trend in the drift of this set of measurements that not only what is being measured is not only changing but also is doing so according to the trend in the drift.
And Oh my! we can also justify our conclusions by applying a statistical test and state it is to a 95% confidence level.
Amazing, truly amazing.
What balderdash. As anyone with a little learning about very elementary physics, mathematics and statistics would know.
Meaningless remains meaningless whatever statistical analysis you may perform: you cannot create meaningful information where there is none to begin with. And meaningless is exactly what variations in this set of measurements are.
Kndest Regards

Geologists disagree. Here’s their temperature map: click. Most of the continent is cooling.
Here’s another view: click.

Philip_B

I have previously suggested that the average latitudinal position of all the air circulation systems is the best indicator of net global warming or net global cooling but that is hard to measure
We have reasonably good surface atmospheric pressure measurements going back as long as the surface temperature records. And a reasonably good reconstruction of the position of circulation systems over time could be made.
Perhaps because I go back longer than most on AGW, I recall when poleward movement of air circulation systems was the main consequence of AGW. France would get the climate of North Africa because the air circulation systems that create the North African climate would northward over France.
Fifteen to twenty years ago there was some evidence this was happening. However, what looked like trend turned out to be a presumably natural cycle as the circulations moved back to their former positions.
Poleward movement of air circulation systems was then quietly forgotten and research into the subject stopped. Another failed prediction of AGW theory.