NSIDC Reports That Antarctica is Cooling and Sea Ice is Increasing

By Steven Goddard

Last month we discussed how NASA continues to spread worries about the Antarctic warming and melting.

A January 12, 2010 Earth Observatory article warns that Antarctica

has been losing more than a hundred cubic kilometers (24 cubic miles) of ice each year since 2002” and that “if all of this ice melted, it would raise global sea level by about 60 meter (197 feet).

[Note that is continental ice, not sea ice, – Anthony]

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/WilkinsIceSheet/images/wilkins_avh_2007.jpg

NASA’s 1982-2007 map showing Antarctica warming

But NSIDC seems to be thinking differently in their March 3, 2010 newsletter.  They say Antarctica is cooling and sea ice is increasing (makes sense – ice is associated with cold.)  

Sea ice extent in the Antarctic has been unusually high in recent years, both in summer and winter. Overall, the Antarctic is showing small positive trends in total extent. For example, the trend in February extent is now +3.1% per decade. However, the Amundsen and Bellingshausen Seas show a strong negative trend in extent. These overall positive trends may seem counterintuitive in light of what is happening in the Arctic. Our Frequently Asked Questions section briefly explains the general differences between the two polar environments. A recent report (Turner, et. al., 2009) suggests that the ozone hole has resulted in changes in atmospheric circulation leading to cooling and increasing sea ice extents over much of the Antarctic region.

The NSIDC graph below shows the upwards trend in Antarctic Sea Ice.  Some recent years have shown anomalies as high as +30%.

http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/s_plot_hires.png

http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/s_plot_hires.png

UAH satellite data also shows Antarctica cooling, as seen in their map below.  (This map is dated November, 2006 – if anyone knows where to get a more recent version, please let me know.)

http://climate.uah.edu/25yearbig.jpg

UAH 25 Year Temperature Trends

Perhaps NASA should have stuck with their original 2004 map below, showing Antarctica’s interior cooling?

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/imagerecords/6000/6502/antarctic_temps.AVH1982-2004.jpg

NASA’s 1982-2004 map showing Antarctica cooling

While there’s no dispute that there’s some sea ice loss in the Antarctic peninsula, all signs seem to point in the opposite direction of what some what have you believe about Antarctica as a continent.


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Ken Stewart

I can’t believe I’m among the first to comment!
Cooling Antarctica? Warming Arctic? So what? Perhaps we should just take the “Global” out of “Climate Change” and “Warming”, then we could all agree that climate does change, and warming can occur, but at different times and rates in different places. Climate is regional.
A good slogan might be- Climate Change- not new, not much, and not scary!

Nice one Steve:
This does show the cherry picking going on, now to get this across to the politics in Washington.
One thing u forgot was to mention the “error bars” that THEY left out!
the scale is -.1 to +.1 but the error factor is +/- .05!!!!!!
no significant warming over this time frame!!!!!
good luck
Tim L

OPPS should read statistical not significant .
doh!

John F. Hultquist

What happened to the tag line about how NASA understands the Earth and everything else – or some such? Do I have the wrong agency in mind? Where is that statement? It applies to this post.

DR

I’m thoroughly convinced climate scientists absolutely positively don’t know much of anything with any degree of certainty except that they are uncertain.

Dave F

@John Hultquist – That is NOAA that understands changes in Earth from the tips of its toes to up above its nose.
@Steven Goddard – Is this also consistent with models?

DR

FLASH!!
NSIDC confirms RealClimate conclusions of a cooling Antarctica and ice increasing!

Antonio San

The Arctic is NOT warming: some regions warm other cool. Just as in Antarctica where the WAIS is warming while eastern Antarctica is slightly cooling.

HereticFringe

Darn it! How is the ocean going to rise 20 feet and flood everthing per Al Gore if Antarctica doesn’t hurry up and melt! Maybe Al should spend some of his carbon credit booty spreading soot over the Antarctic ice cap so that he can actually be right about something for once in his life.

duffman

Sorry but I couldn’t get past the first little bit.
“has been losing more than a hundred cubic kilometers (24 cubic miles) of ice each year since 2002” and that “if all of this ice melted, it would raise global sea level by about 60 meter (197 feet).“
where did all the ice go? If it didn’t melt does that mean its floating in the ocean? Last time I checked floating ice has to displace a larger volume then if it melted ( else it would sink and still displace sea water raising the seas). Or did it evaporate at such a rate it escaped earths gravity?

Mark

Must be that Mann-made hole from CFC’s…

But NSIDC seems to be thinking differently
The NASA article and NSIDC are talking about different things. The land-supported ice shelf and the floating sea ice. In fact, the NASA article says that sea ice is increasing.

R. Gates

While this increase in Antarctic sea ice is interesting, it as strong an upward slope as the downward slope in the Arctic sea has been since 1978 or so. Still, in merits watching. Every AGW model shows that at some point, Antarctic sea ice will follow along with the Arctic sea ice and show a decline by sometime later this century. The Ozone hole issue may be causing some of this growth, or it could be something else entirely. I will watch the Antarctic sea ice closely in the next few years, and if the increase continues, or the Arctic Sea ice begins to grow again (on an annualized basis), over several seasons, my faith in the AGW hypothesis will be diminished.
Meanwhile, at 14,000 ft. in the troposphere, global temps have set new 20 year record highs every day in March, and 2010 remains on track to be the warmest year on instrument record. Along with the long term condition of Arctic and Antarctic sea ice, these kinds of troposheric records I watch closely. I’m sure AGW skeptics would say it is all El Nino related, for it certainly isn’t a super-active sun. But it is exactly in line with AGW models, so this too, must be considered by an honest observer.

John F. Hultquist

Dave F, Thanks, it is NOAA. And I found it.
“NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.”

michael hammer

The radius of Earth is 6400km so the surface area is 3.14*4*6400^2 or 5e8 sq km. if 70% is ocean thats 3.5e8 sqkm of ocean surface. 100 cubic km of ice per year will raise the sea level by 100/3.5e8 km = 2.9e-7km which equals 0.29mm per year. Since 2002 is 8 years so a total rise of 2.3 mm.
I realise the initial report is countermanded by the later one but even if it were correct the rise of 60 meters at the rate indicated would take a while:- say about 200,000 years!!!!
Seems a shame they missed that little tidbit.

D. D. Freund

I would caution you to distinguish between Antarctic *continental* ice — which the first article you cite claims to be decreasing — and Antarctic sea ice, which has been increasing. Sea level is affected by the first, unaffected by the second.

Wren

NASA’s Explanation
January 12, 2010
“There has been lots of talk lately about Antarctica and whether or not the continent’s giant ice sheet is melting. One new paper 1, which states there’s less surface melting recently than in past years, has been cited as “proof” that there’s no global warming. Other evidence that the amount of sea ice around Antarctica seems to be increasing slightly 2-4 is being used in the same way. But both of these data points are misleading. Gravity data collected from space using NASA’s Grace satellite show that Antarctica has been losing more than a hundred cubic kilometers (24 cubic miles) of ice each year since 2002. The latest data reveal that Antarctica is losing ice at an accelerating rate, too. How is it possible for surface melting to decrease, but for the continent to lose mass anyway? The answer boils down to the fact that ice can flow without melting.”
For more on the subject, see
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/view.php?id=42399

wes george

The bottom line is that there is no long term discernible trend towards warming at all in the Antarctic. The hypothesis of AGW requires that rapid global warming be obvious (“robust”, ahem) and all the IPCC-approved climate models show rapid warming at both poles.
What does one call a hypothesis that fails to yield useful predictions of observed data?

Pat Frank

Guess Steig, et al., were wrong about the warming Antarctic after all, claims of advanced math notwithstanding.
Jeff id was right, to wit, “There it is, we can now say conclusively that the positive trend in the Antarctic reconstruction comes primarily from the well known peninsula warming trend .”
And now the NSIDC apparently agrees. Who’d have predicted that?

Dave Harrison

Of course NASA’s data probably includes ‘correction’ for…. the ozone layer?

James F. Evans

The hits keep on coming — a regular hits’ parade.
Antarctica is getting cooler and ice is expanding.
AGW is melting like the wicked witch of the West in the Wizard of OZ.
And all it took was a pale of water — in this case facts and evidence — who would have thunk it…

Wren

wes george (21:38:17) :
The bottom line is that there is no long term discernible trend towards warming at all in the Antarctic. The hypothesis of AGW requires that rapid global warming be obvious (“robust”, ahem) and all the IPCC-approved climate models show rapid warming at both poles.
What does one call a hypothesis that fails to yield useful predictions of observed data?
=======
Sea ice is only part of the story
“Gravity data collected from space using NASA’s Grace satellite show that Antarctica has been losing more than a hundred cubic kilometers (24 cubic miles) of ice each year since 2002. Gravity data collected from space using NASA’s Grace satellite show that Antarctica has been losing more than a hundred cubic kilometers (24 cubic miles) of ice each year since 2002. The latest data reveal that Antarctica is losing ice at an accelerating rate, too. How is it possible for surface melting to decrease, but for the continent to lose mass anyway? The answer boils down to the fact that ice can flow without melting.”
For more on the subject, see
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/view.php?id=42399

Rob

Isn’t most of the ice in Antarctica land-based, not sea-ice? So, isn’t it more important to monitor the mass of the land-based ice.? How has that been changing?

Steve Goddard

Sea ice forms at lower latitudes and lower elevations (i.e. warmer places) than the continental ice, which exists at colder places closer to the pole and at higher elevations.
This article is about sea ice, but it should be apparent that it would be impossible for a region of sea ice to be growing and nearby continental ice to be melting.

Steve Goddard

Sea ice also freezes at lower temperatures than freshwater continental ice.

Wren

wes george (21:38:17) :
The bottom line is that there is no long term discernible trend towards warming at all in the Antarctic. The hypothesis of AGW requires that rapid global warming be obvious (“robust”, ahem) and all the IPCC-approved climate models show rapid warming at both poles.
What does one call a hypothesis that fails to yield useful predictions of observed data?
=======
Data collected by NASA’s Grace satellite show that Antarctica has been losing more than 24 cubic miles of ice each year since 2002.”
For more on the subject, see
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/view.php?id=42399

Yippy

“A recent report (Turner, et. al., 2009) suggests that the ozone hole has resulted in changes in atmospheric circulation leading to cooling and increasing sea ice extents over much of the Antarctic region”
Is this a joke? The ozone hole was ‘discovered’ in the late 1970’s through early satellite data. Are we to assume, therefore, that prior to discovery by man the ozone hole did not exist or did not affect atmospheric circulation?

MJ Penny

So with a total ice volume of about 30,000,000 km3 it will take 300,000 years for all the ice in Antarctica to melt at 100 km3. Does not seem catastrophic to me.
MJPenny

Claude Harvey

So…the man-made CO2 would have killed off all the penguins, but the man-made hole in the ozone layer saved them. Man giveth and man taketh away. Man is a powerful deity! Worship services to be held at ten o’clock Sunday morning at the “Tabernacle of The Mercenary Missionaries”.

Here is an interesting 23 page PDF from Questioning Climate,that seem to show that the decline of Ice in the Arctic might be overstated:
How Fast is Arctic Sea Ice Declining?
http://www.trevoole.co.uk/Questioning_Climate/userfiles/How_Fast_is_Arctic_Sea_Ice_Declining_v2.pdf

MaxL

Whenever displaying linear regressions it should be mandatory to give both the standard error of the estimate and the correlation coefficient (r). Knowing this and the number of data points you can determine whether the linear relation is statistically significant. I seldom see the correlation coefficient value given. Any decent peer review should be demand this. Any statistical package will spit out a linear regression for you, but is it statistically significant. If the data points vary widely there is not much point in putting stock in any linear relation.
For those who may wish to know more about statistics and linear regression, a very educational and quite easy to follow explanation can be found at Concepts and Applications of Inferential Statistics:
http://faculty.vassar.edu/lowry/webtext.html.
In particular Chapter 3 on Correlation and Regression.

Ed Murphy

http://www.volcano.si.edu/world/largeeruptions.cfm
A quick glance, ice extent seems a match to follow larger southern hemisphere eruptions. Also…
http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch/2005/05_07_28.html
The bromine emitted from volcanoes is likely large enough to cause local ozone depletion and affect stratospheric chemistry.

Stephan

Actually Artic might be gettin colder too
http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php
even clicking on each year I dont discern any trend do you?

Steve Goddard

Wren,
Suppose for a moment that the NASA claim of 24 cubic miles per year was correct. It would take 300,000 years for the ice to melt.
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/02/03/nasa-still-spreading-antarctic-fud/

Roy Clark

Don’t forget those Antarctic volcanoes!
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/01/22/surprise-theres-an-active-volcano-under-antarctic-ice/
There is a good reason for the West Antarctic to be warming.

Steve Goddard

I don’t find the Ozone hole story very convincing, because it only appears during during the winter and spring –
http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/sbuv2to/gif_files/ozone_hole_2007.png
Why would summer temperatures in Antarctica be affected?
and because it is getting smaller each year.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/26/science/earth/26ozone.html

Steve Goddard

MaxL,
If you object to the NSIDC graph and their statements about sea ice growth, you should let them know. They are very responsive to queries.

pat

Of course the cooling of Antarctica has been known for years by actual thermometer readers. And it is a bit scary. Luckily the sea will protect the planet from the worst effects, but this cooling does not bode well for us all. Frankly, this planet does not need the wheat fields of Argentina, nor the fruits of Chile shriveling up.

Steve Goddard

Still summer in Antarctica, and temperatures at Vostok are minus 60 F, forecast to hit minus 79 F later in the week.
http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/findweather/getForecast?query=-78.44999695,106.87000275

Dr A Burns

“These overall positive trends may seem counterintuitive in light of what is happening in the Arctic”
How is intuition relevant to data ? … or perhaps they feel the negative trend in the Arctic is counterintuitive to what is happening in the Antarctic ?

Willis Eschenbach

For those talking above about a warming arctic and about sea ice, see my analyses here (in the Updates).

Wren

Steve Goddard (22:29:04) :
Wren,
Suppose for a moment that the NASA claim of 24 cubic miles per year was correct. It would take 300,000 years for the ice to melt.
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/02/03/nasa-still-spreading-antarctic-fud/
================
Who said it’s all going away soon?

Wren

Steve Goddard (22:06:34) :
Sea ice forms at lower latitudes and lower elevations (i.e. warmer places) than the continental ice, which exists at colder places closer to the pole and at higher elevations.
This article is about sea ice, but it should be apparent that it would be impossible for a region of sea ice to be growing and nearby continental ice to be melting.
=====
NASA says
“The answer boils down to the fact that ice can flow without melting.”

G.L. Alston

R. Gates (21:19:02) : But it is exactly in line with AGW models, so this too, must be considered by an honest observer.
Popper would say “Nonsense!” My less charitable retort would be bleeped despite it having the attributes of being accurate and concise.
One cannot pick and choose which parts of which models seem to correlate and then claim model validity. The model either works in the aggregate or it does not. This is not nuanced. There isn’t anything there but black and white. And the models pushed in the IPCC reports fail to predict a cooling antarctic.
When faced with a cooling antarctic a while back some of the realclimate apologists claimed “we knew this” and then offered “proof” by way of a newer more accurate experimental model that took some new data into account as well as lunar phase, day of the week, price of gas, and jaw angle. I’m pretty sure that if I fed new data into a model and then tweaked it by hand until it screamed, I too could “predict” the obvious and thereby claim that condition X (whatever the data was the past year or so) was “consistent.” This is especially true if one claims that the antarctic will warm +/- 3 degrees (i.e. it may cool, warm, or even do nothing, so you cover all possible bases.)

Just to put a bit of perspective in, Antarctica is seven times the area of Greenland. It is estimated Greenland was losing around 70km^3/year a few years ago. Five times the rate of loss in Antarctica.
Ice flows downhill. I wonder where the alarmists think it used to flow to before man set fire to coal…

Murray Carpenter
C Colenaty

NASA had might as well said that the answer was 42. What difference does it make that ice can flow without melting?

wayne

Why does no one mention the very possibility that Antarctica could be subsiding 0.7 mm/year instead of assuming loss of ice over the continent? Or could it possibly be a combination of both? The satellite is measuring height. That 0.7 mm would, over 14,000,000 km, equate to 100 cubic kilometers of ice loss also but would mean no ice has actually been lost. Can the Grace satellite’s instruments measure to this incredible precision. That is to 9 or 10 digits. Don’t know, will have to read the Grace instruments user, calibration, and specification manuals and procedures; NASA usually makes these public. And Grace was launched in 2002 which is when the ‘trend’ began. What? That questions immediately a possible secular drift. Just don’t foolishly accept statements tossed without concrete backup.

maksimovich

Steve Goddard (22:37:15
I don’t find the Ozone hole story very convincing,
http://i255.photobucket.com/albums/hh133/mataraka/ozoneap.jpg
Why would summer temperatures in Antarctica be affected?
Transport inbound due to an enhanced polar vortex.
and because it is getting smaller each year
1979-2009 DU minimums.
http://i255.photobucket.com/albums/hh133/mataraka/anacticozoneduanomalies.jpg
There is some interesting studies in causal mechanisms eg Callis et al 1998
Sinnhuber et al 2006 have some discussion on this.
Abstract. Long-term measurements of polar ozone show
an unexpectedly large decadal scale variability in the midstratosphere
during winter. Negative ozone anomalies are
strongly correlated with the flux of energetic electrons in
the radiation belt, which is modulated by the 11-year solar
cycle. The magnitude of the observed decadal ozone
changes (20%) is much larger than any previously reported
solar cycle effect in the atmosphere up to this altitude. The
early-winter ozone anomalies subsequently propagate downward
into the lower stratosphere and may even influence total
ozone and meteorological conditions during spring. These
findings suggest a previously unrecognized mechanism by
which solar variability impacts on climate through changes
in polar ozone.:

http://i255.photobucket.com/albums/hh133/mataraka/Sinnhuberetal.jpg

Peter Miller

The USGS article by Williams, Richard and Ferrigrio states the volume of the ice caps is as follows:
1. Greenland (Arctic): 2.6 million cubic kilometre (7.9% of total world)
2. Antarctic: 30.1 million cubic kilometres (91.5% of total world)
The average annual (Source: NSDIC) thickness of sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic is respectively 2.5 and 1.5 metres and their maximum extent is16 and 19 million square kilometres. In other words, the average volume of sea ice is around 1.54% and 0.01% respectively of their associated ice caps.
I don’t really see how minor changes in the maximum and minimum extent of the sea ice is any cause for concern. The Antarctic sea ice has been increasing marginally in recent times, while the Arctic sea ice has been decreasing at a slightly faster rate. However, we do not have any records worth a damn prior to 1960, and therefore cannot make any statistically significant conclusions on whether or not (more likely) this changes mean anything.
The WUWT (AMSR-E) accompanying chart of Arctic sea ice extent suggests we may have a small chance of achieving an 8 year maximum extent record sometime over the next few weeks – if this does happen, there are two things we can be absolutely sure of: 1) it won’t be reported on any alarmist websites, or ii) if it is reported, it will be cited as another example of proof of AGW.