RealClimate's Steig: Pacific SST's influencing Antarctic melt, no link to human causes demonstrated

WUWT readers may recall the Nature cover with this picture of Antarctica at left, followed by the subsequent falsification of the Antarctic warming claims made by Steig et al using the dicey Mannomatic math employed. We owe thanks to O’Donnell et al and Jeff Id for doing the work showing that the warming was mainly in the Peninsula, and the Mannomatic smeared the data over the rest of the continent.

Now, from the University of Washington  press office, comes this press release from Dr. Eric Steig on Antarctica that is really quite interesting.  Bolding below is mine.

Tropical sea temperatures influence melting in Antarctica

Accelerated melting of two fast-moving outlet glaciers that drain Antarctic ice into the Amundsen Sea Embayment is likely the result, in part, of an increase in sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean, according to new University of Washington research.

Higher-than-normal sea-level pressure north of the Amundsen Sea sets up westerly winds that push surface water away from the glaciers and allow warmer deep water to rise to the surface under the edges of the glaciers, said Eric Steig, a UW professor of Earth and space sciences.

“This part of Antarctica is affected by what’s happening on the rest of the planet, in particular the tropical Pacific,” he said.

The research involves the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, two of the five largest glaciers in Antarctica. Those two glaciers are important because they drain a large portion of the ice sheet. As they melt from below, they also gain speed, draining the ice sheet faster and contributing to sea level rise. Eventually that could lead to global sea level rise of as much as 6 feet, though that would take hundreds to thousands of years, Steig said.

NASA scientists recently documented that a section of the Pine Island Glacier the size of New York City had begun breaking off into a huge iceberg. Steig noted that such an event is normal and scientists were fortunate to be on hand to record it on film. Neither that event nor the new UW findings clearly link thinning Antarctic ice to human causes.

But Steig’s research shows that unusual winds in this area are linked to changes far away, in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Warmer-than-usual sea-surface temperatures, especially in the central tropics, lead to changes in atmospheric circulation that influence conditions near the Antarctic coast line. Recent decades have been exceptionally warm in the tropics, he said, and to whatever extent unusual conditions in the tropical Pacific can be attributed to human activities, unusual conditions in Antarctica also can be attributed to those causes.

He noted that sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific last showed significant warming in the 1940s, and the impact in the Amundsen Sea area then was probably comparable to what has been observed recently. That suggests that the 1940s tropical warming could have started the changes in the Amundsen Sea ice shelves that are being observed now, he said.

Steig presents his findings Tuesday (Dec. 6) at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. In another presentation Wednesday, he will discuss evidence from ice cores on the history of Antarctic climate in the last century.

He emphasized that natural variations in tropical sea-surface temperatures associated with the El Niño Southern Oscillation play a significant role. The 1990s were notably different from all other decades in the tropics, with two major El Niño events offset by only minor La Niña events.

“The point is that if you want to predict what’s going to happen in the next fifty, one-hundred, one-thousand years in Antarctica, you have to pay attention to what’s happening elsewhere,” he said. “The tropics are where there is a large source of uncertainty.”

###

Other researchers involved with the work are Qinghua Ding and David Battisti of the UW and Adrian Jenkins of the British Antarctic Survey. The research is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the United Kingdom’s Natural Environment Research Council and the UW Quaternary Research Center.

For more information, contact Steig at 206-685-3715, 206-543-6327 or steig@uw.edu.

To view a NASA video of the crack in the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf, see: http://bit.ly/uPFruW

In October, 2011, NASA’s Operation IceBridge discovered a major rift in the Pine Island Glacier in western Antarctica. This crack, which extends at least 18 miles and is 50 meters deep, could produce an iceberg more than 800 square kilometers in size. IceBridge scientists returned soon after to make the first-ever detailed airborne measurements of a major iceberg calving in progress. (Credit: NASA/Goddard/Jefferson Beck)

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TomRude

Steig in another case of tail wags the dog… LOL

Joe

Well, it’s nice to see some normalization of the science coming from that end. This is the kind of off-narrative report that, were it 2005, would have Mann drumming up support for black balling Steig.
Well, either that or this is one of those reports that we see the team building in the latest emails to help build their bonifides in preparation for their next “your face will melt!” study.

So the Peninsula is warming just like in 40ties and the bulk of Antarctic is cooling (but this was not said). That pesky back-radiation is still maliciously hiding behind ENSO, NAO, AMO, jet streams and sea currents.

Interstellar Bill

If they truly cared about the Earth,
the Warmistas would be happy to find there’s nothing to be alarmed about.
It’s truly telling that good news for Earth is bad news for the ‘Cause’.

DJ

I’m still puzzled that there seems to be no consideration of subsea vents or volcanic activity which abounds in the peninsula region, heat sources which are region specific….and I’ve never seen any studies of the ground temps on land that are beneath the ice that could account for melting.

Gail Combs

ERRRRrrrr,
If you go look at Bob Tisdale’s most recent post it is the INDIAN ocean that is warm not the others. (See first picture at top of post )
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/12/05/november-2011-sea-surface-temperature-sst-anomaly-update/
Picture: http://bobtisdale.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/0-map.png?w=640
Indian Ocean Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Anomalies
http://bobtisdale.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/11-indian.png?w=640&h=420&h=420
Southern Ocean Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Anomalies
http://bobtisdale.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/13-southern.png?w=640&h=420&h=420
Southern Hemisphere Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Anomalies
http://bobtisdale.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/6-so-hem.png?w=640&h=420&h=420
South Pacific Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Anomalies
http://bobtisdale.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/10-so-pac.png?w=640&h=420&h=420
A special thanks to Bob Tisdale for all the hard work he has done.

pat

Wonder if the break off will be described in Manhattans or Gizas?

Gail Combs

DJ says:
December 6, 2011 at 7:59 am
I’m still puzzled that there seems to be no consideration of subsea vents or volcanic activity which abounds in the peninsula region, heat sources which are region specific….and I’ve never seen any studies of the ground temps on land that are beneath the ice that could account for melting.
__________________________
LINK: http://www.iceagenow.com/Underwater_volcanoes_heating_Antarctic_waters.htm
Thousand of new volcanoes revealed beneath the waves
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn12218
And then there are the lakes under the glaciers…..
Antarctic Lakes: 145 and Counting, Scientists Say
….”The lakes lie beneath blankets of ice up to 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) thick and are considered one of the great unexplored frontiers on Earth. “…
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/11/1101_041101_antarctic_lakes.html
Other news:
Antarctic Desert http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/02/0226_030226_McMurdo.html
Ice Buildup Hampers Penguin Breeding in Antarctica http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/01/0117_020117antarcticpenguins.html
A really fascinating place but I would not want to live there BRRrrr

H F Clark

“In October, 2011, NASA’s Operation IceBridge discovered a major rift in the Pine Island Glacier in western Antarctica. This crack, which extends at least 18 miles and is 50 meters deep, could produce an iceberg more than 800 square kilometers in size.”
Make up your mind, please, to work in either Imperial or Metric measures. (But don’t remind me that here in the UK we fill our cars with litres and check our miles per gallon!)

crosspatch

If you go look at Bob Tisdale’s most recent post it is the INDIAN ocean that is warm not the others.

If I understand what he has put out over the years, La Nina tends to warm the Indian Ocean and we have had a few of those in the recent years (2008 was a pretty big one). The current one is odd if the model forecast in the ENSO reference page here is to be believed in that it is currently predicted to peak in the spring rather than in January as most such events do. Last year, for example, it peaked in January before returning to neutral conditions in July. This year so far the forecast says it will peak sometime in February and never get back to more than -1 before drifting negative again. Three consecutive years of La Nina conditions, anyone? Texas is going to hate this.

DJ

Gail, thank you very much for the links, much appreciated!!

Jeff L

The Team won’t be happy with this …

Bob H

Well, as I recall, Stieg had cooperated with O’Donnell and Jeff Id while they were breaking down his analysis. He disagreed with their results, but I believe was civil about it. He seems to be the only real scientist on the team, which is to say he will consider contradictory results.

mac

Again we see climate scientists pulling back from CAGW.
It is as a light has gone off in their heads with the thought, “We can’t keep on doing junk science”.

Alan the Brit

“Recent decades have been exceptionally warm in the tropics, he said, and to whatever extent unusual conditions in the tropical Pacific can be attributed to human activities, unusual conditions in Antarctica also can be attributed to those causes.”
Errr……..so the warming elsewhere is by default, unexceptional? Surely this is subjective. I find the heat in the south of France exceptional, compared to the heat here in the UK! I found the heat in Florida exceptional, compared to the heat here in the UK! Ditto LA & San Francisco. BTW I am surprised nobody has linked the fog banks along the San Franciscan coast to AGW, that really is the spookiest weather event I ever experienced in the early 1980s, how it would at times just sit out there all day long, then the sun goes down & in she comes, other times it was during the day & reveresed in the evening. oh how I wish…………..You Californians were all the same, there we were two youngsters in out early 20s, we stop & have a sandwich , or a beer (loved the Coors served in a pitcher), or both, & we say “where’s the all the Californian Sunshine gone?” The bartender/waitress would reply, “You should have been here last week, it was beautiful!” 🙂
Reply: You should have been here a couple of days ago. It was sunny and warm.~ctm

H F Clark says:
December 6, 2011 at 8:26 am
“In October, 2011, NASA’s Operation IceBridge discovered a major rift in the Pine Island Glacier in western Antarctica. This crack, which extends at least 18 miles and is 50 meters deep, could produce an iceberg more than 800 square kilometers in size.”
Make up your mind, please, to work in either Imperial or Metric measures. (But don’t remind me that here in the UK we fill our cars with litres and check our miles per gallon!)
————–
Speak for yourself! As an inhabitant of a similarly conflicted jurisdiction, Canada, which went partially metric in the 1970s, this is how I lecture to my students. They don’t generally seem to mind (I’ve only been called on it once or twice in 17 years)! I call it ‘being bilingual’. It’s all good, right? 🙂

To me it’s an interesting situation that this story is posted so close to “Common link in extreme weather events found – and no, it isn’t AGW”. They seem to have the common link that weather in the tropics is affecting weather near both the N and S polar regions. Or am I seeing patterns where they don’t exist?
IanM

To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever done a scientific study of the effects of the volcanic activity taking place under the ice sheets. I’ve seen stories that acknowledge they exist, but nothing else of any substance. If anyone knows of such a paper I’d appreciate a link.

Gail Combs says:
December 6, 2011 at 8:26 am

Thanx Gail!

I may just may not have had enough caffeine this morning, but would not the melt water from the glaciers decrease sea surface temperatures, chilling the warmer upwelling waters as the move away from the coast?

Crispin in Waterloo

@mac
Do you think it is possible they are doing regular science, seeing the result, deciding it is ‘off message’ then either torturing the data until it conforms, or simple making junk science claims about what they did or didn’t find? Yes some of it is junk science, but…
It is for me hard to believe that decent observation and analysis comes up with junk, and the CG2 mails show that inside the Team there were genuine voices of (skeptical) reason. The problem has been the junk science claims made which they knew were shaky or poorly supported by their own research or that of others.
The light that may have illumined their furrowed brows might be that of, “We can’t keep on making junk claims about what the science does or does not show.” The corpus of AGW claims is the core issue. It is these vainglorious imaginings attached to quite ordinary and unremarkable investigations of a naturally (and highly) variable climate that have to go. Oh yeah, and the opportunity to be paid to continue to make them.
C’est la vie.

Glacierman

A random act of science?

Allan M

…Eric Steig, a UW professor of Earth and space sciences.
Wow! That’s a lot of sciences. Is there anything left? He must be a hypermath.

One might want to take note of the title of Steig’s talk at AGU (in about an hour): “Evidence for an anthropogenic contribution to recent ocean-driven ice losses in West Antarctica”.

JohnH

Pre normal science instead of the usual post normal science the Team get up to.
Refreshing !!

Walt Meier says: December 6, 2011 at 9:45 am
It’s always a pleasure to see you commenting here, Dr. Meier. And thank you for the laugh. If Dr. Steig is “backing away” from CAGW, it must be in one of those “… slowly I turn, step by step, inch by inch…” modes. Seriously, though, it should be interesting to see how he reconciles the title of the talk with the contents of the article. Perhaps you’d be kind enough to report back on this? And maybe comment on Bob Tisdale’s SST update? His conclusions make Dr. Steig’s driving mechanism of an unusally hot tropic sound a little tenuous.

G. Karst

Any man (or woman), including Eric Steig, who finds himself standing naked amongst a crowd, will desparately seek clothing or some sort of cover. Before I lend him my cloak, I want to hear him admit, that he and his fellow teammates, are naked. Why should I do different, as long as he and they, are still admiring the emperor’s fine clothing. They need to freeze a little longer. GK

GeologyJim

“Eventually that could lead to global sea level rise of as much as 6 feet, though that would take hundreds to thousands of years”, Steig said.
Uhhhhh .. .. .. In the last “hundreds of thousands of years”, Earth’s gone through at least two full glacial-interglacial cycles, each involving about 400 feet of sea-level change.
Why is this considered noteworthy? Where are the legions of Jo Nova’s and Donna Laframbiose’s who will ask the simple follow-up “So, Eric, why should this matter?”
Walt Meier says Steig’s talk is titled “Evidence for an anthropogenic contribution .. .. ..” SNAFU

Babsy

What???? Hot flows to cold???? Who knew?

Eric “Tipping Point” Steig is a proponent of the Tipping Point Theory of Climatology, wherein we teeter on edge of climatic precipices, and occasionally plunge over the edge. In fact, according to Tipping Point Steig, we have already fallen from Climatic Grace and it’s Too Late to do anything about it.
So eat, drink, and be merry because Thermageddon is nigh, like a boulder rolling off a mountain. The opportunity to forestall the Ecopalypse has come and gone, oh you foolish carbon sinners.
Which begs the question, why is Tipping Point still publishing papers? It’s just an exercise in futility. The genie is out of the bottle, the cat from the bag, the horse from the barn. Doesn’t Tipping Point have something more useful to do, like building a spaceship so the Climatelligensia can escape before the oceans boil?

Jimmy Haigh

Warmistas waking up and smelling the coffee.
The thought processes are going like this: “OK guys we got it wrong. Let’s do some damage control. What we need is 100% balls to the wall – hey – Susan – you too – and Phil – and Mike – and all of you guys.”
“Let;s try and sneak this under the radar, eh?” OK?

Bloke down the pub

Rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner? Time will tell.

Scarface

I think Mann is not amused. Steig may expect a phonecall now from one of the Causists.

Pete H

Eventually that could lead to global sea level rise of as much as 6 feet, though that would take hundreds to thousands of years, Steig said.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Oh come on! Is he serious? So now they can forecast thousands of years forward? Those models are coming along! Why even mention sea level in hundreds of years? Its hard to leave a “cause”!
Okay, I know I am not in context! Its those bloody emails that get me into the habit!

John A

Eric Steig:

Accelerated melting of two fast-moving outlet glaciers that drain Antarctic ice into the Amundsen Sea Embayment is likely the result, in part, of an increase in sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean, according to new University of Washington research.
Higher-than-normal sea-level pressure north of the Amundsen Sea sets up westerly winds that push surface water away from the glaciers and allow warmer deep water to rise to the surface under the edges of the glaciers, said Eric Steig, a UW professor of Earth and space sciences.

So Eric, its the Reverse Trenberth Process. Cold water is moved away from glaciers and warm water from the deep ocean to rise and melt the glaciers. Warm water is restrained from rising to the surface because of overlying cold water?
Its amazing the scientific results that fly through peer review and get published these days….

Babsy

Pete H says:
December 6, 2011 at 10:48 am
Elementary, my dear Pete H. It’s all in the model. It’s all in the model….

John-X

mac says:
December 6, 2011 at 8:56 am
“Again we see climate scientists pulling back from CAGW.
It is as a light has gone off in their heads with the thought, “We can’t keep on doing junk science”.”
Ha ha ha. Yeah, right.
“Qatar will be the host of COP 18 which will take place from 26 November to 7 December 2012.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Framework_Convention_on_Climate_Change#2012_.E2.80.93_COP_18.2FMOP_8.2C_Qatar
6 figure salaries. expense accounts. first-class air travel. 5-star resorts. all-expense-paid party “conferences” with no point, no work, all play. just fly in, party, write a scary comminuique, “see you next year in another posh resort.”
Oh, and why Qatar, and not, say Kuwait City, or Riyadh?
“Luxurious hotels and nightclubs are allowed to sell alcohol to their adult non-Muslim customers.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qatar#Alcohol_and_other_dietary_issues

a reader

A wonderful article on Operation High Jump by Admiral Richard Byrd in the NatGeo October 1947 describes many of the discoveries of that expedition. It was to photograph and map the coast of Antarctica. One of the discoveries was of the 20,000 sq. mile bay which contains the outlet of the Pine Island Glacier. Our knowledge of this glacier is obviously very recent–how could we know very much at all about its history? One of the sea plane tenders was named “Pine Island” by the way. I wonder if the glacier was named after the ship? It would be interesting to know if the photos and data from that expedition were ever archived. I have read that many photos were unusable due to instrument problems.

Robert M

Don’t be fooled by this guy. Eric Steig is a “team” member through and through. The “Team” needed a published paper showing warming in the Antarctic. Steig delivered. To stay on message Stieg et al. tortured the data until it told lies. When this was not enough he invented a statistical method to “smear” the invented warming signal from a few stations across half the continent. He subverted the peer review process, by trying to remove the reviewers who disagreed with his conclusions and pointed out his “mistakes.” His actions during the publication process demonstrated a willingness to deceive and in my opinion demonstrated outright fraud.
If he is back, the team must be running another scam. Remember, he and his are willing to lie cheat and steal to reach their goal, and they really don’t care who they bulldoze on the way. Use Caution!!!

bob alou

204 Malta 316 sq smallest country of the European Union.
205 Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha 308 sq mi, British Overseas Territory
206 Maldives 300 120 sq mi Smallest country in Asia.
800 sq km or 308.88049130 sq mi. The above is from “List of countries and outlying territories by total area” according to Wikipedia. The whole of NY, NY is 303 sq mi so this is pretty close but MannyHattin is only 23 sq mi of the 303. Why not use football field (American or Canadian), tennis courts (singles/doubles), soccer fields, or some other obscure measure of area like the Deslandres Crater on the moon at 256 km in diameter (named after French astronomer Henri-Alexandre Deslandres (1853–1948))? How about polar bear hunting areas because we all know that they live in the antarctic. Then again when all of the ice melts in the arctic maybe they will migrate down south to whats left of the ice there.
\sarc off

Nic Lewis

Steig’s new explanation is at first sight consistent with the conclusions of the paper published last year by another of the researchers involved in this work, Adrian Jenkins: “Observations beneath Pine Island Glacier in West ANtarctica and implications for its retreat” (Nature Geoscience; preprint at http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/159453/1/Jenkins_preprint.pdf). After discussing ice loss from the Pine Island Glacier caused by influx of warmer deep ocean water, the paper goes on to say
“Analogous signatures of ice-sheet thinning have been observed at many locations around Antarctica where outlet glaciers terminate in the ocean. If these continent-wide changes are driven by the same external forcing, they must all have a multi-decadal, perhaps centennial, timescale”.
The long timescales involved here suggest that natural variability rather than AGW has been the prime cause of the ice loss.

JPeden

Those two glaciers are important because they drain a large portion of the ice sheet. As they melt from below, they also gain speed, draining the ice sheet faster and contributing to sea level rise.
“Draining”, “melting from below” and making ice sheets crack off and glaciers ‘collapse’ = more Climate B.S. verbiage. Glaciers flow somewhat as a plastic, depending on mass located higher up, the pressure at glacier depth, and the low temp. at their ground interface. So they will crack off/calve at or somewhere over the Ocean.
Therefore, Steig’s paper is ‘highly likely’ just more Precautionary “Hypotheses” Climate Propaganda obfuscation ‘consistent with’ everything, leaving the idea that we ‘could’ all die from fossil fuel burning intact. So that we’d still better accelerate the dying process immediately by retreating toward Communism’s Stone Age “before it’s too late!. Or else!”

jorgekafkazar

Bob H says: “Well, as I recall, Stieg had cooperated with O’Donnell and Jeff Id while they were breaking down his analysis. He disagreed with their results, but I believe was civil about it. He seems to be the only real scientist on the team, which is to say he will consider contradictory results.”
Maybe. As I recall, at the time, Steig did point out in regard to his “Antarctic is warming” paper, that the rate he found was extremely slow and the ice cap wasn’t going to melt anytime soon.

I think we should all treat Steig’s (and any other’s) work on its merits, and not assume political etc motives, regardless of the merits or otherwise of past work.
Of course, as Alan the Brit points out, there is the usual pandering to AGW, but it does seem quite muted in this case: “Recent decades have been exceptionally warm in the tropics, he said, and to whatever extent unusual conditions in the tropical Pacific can be attributed to human activities, unusual conditions in Antarctica also can be attributed to those causes.
Gail Comb says “If you go look at Bob Tisdale’s most recent post it is the INDIAN ocean that is warm not the others.
There may be major time-lags to consider. The report says “That suggests that the 1940s tropical warming could have started the changes in the Amundsen Sea ice shelves that are being observed now, he said“.
John A says “Warm water is restrained from rising to the surface because of overlying cold water?
Possible. Water expands from 4 deg C to 0 deg C.

I don’t now much about the Antarctica, I am more preoccupied with the Arctic and the North Atlantic. Recently I had ‘RC’ exchanges and email correspondence with Dr. Stieg and I am convinced that whatever he stands for, he is an honest scientist. He allowed my views more leeway on the RC than I ever expected, I need to be more appreciative of his hospitality, so Dr. Steig I publicly express my thanks.

Graeme W

Robert E. Phelan says:
December 6, 2011 at 9:59 am
Walt Meier says: December 6, 2011 at 9:45 am
It’s always a pleasure to see you commenting here, Dr. Meier. And thank you for the laugh. If Dr. Steig is “backing away” from CAGW, it must be in one of those “… slowly I turn, step by step, inch by inch…” modes. Seriously, though, it should be interesting to see how he reconciles the title of the talk with the contents of the article. Perhaps you’d be kind enough to report back on this? And maybe comment on Bob Tisdale’s SST update? His conclusions make Dr. Steig’s driving mechanism of an unusally hot tropic sound a little tenuous.

I’m also interested in what Dr. Meier would have to say, but my first thought on the relationship between Bob Tisdale’s work on SST’s and Steig’s theory would be to ask how long does it take for the warm water from the tropics to transit to the deep water, make it’s way down to the Antarctic, and then rise to the surface again. It wouldn’t be instantaneous, so how long? Are we talking weeks, months or years? I’m guessing years, but what would the lag be?

Scott

As mentioned I dont think enough research has been done on the volcanic activity of that Peninsula. I believe they discovered a massive undersea volcano off that penisula in 2005 that wasnt there in previous surveys of the area.
You can grow an undersea volcano without lava escaping to create the mountain, just a little heat source I would have thought.

Matt G

The ice cap will never melt while the continent is placed over the South pole, only around the edges at times when especially pushed towards much warmer (still quite cold) ocean. The reason being in regions with very weak and low solar insolation , the only possible way it can get much warmer is by a flow of much warm ocean/sea water through it. With it being a huge land mass this can never happen, so temperatures from very weak and low solar insolation always dominates. The ocean surrounding the huge land mass is too far for it to affect the interior continent.
In around 60-100 millions years might start to get a little worried when this continent moves away from this pole. During this period there will never be a 20c annual rise in temperatures on average over this continent. (from today’s values) At least this rise needed to may have some significant melting on the land mass and not just shelves, where all the drama comes from the ocean in contact with increasing top heavy glacier or ice shelve. (only a matter of time until the weight gets too heavy and part of the ice breaks off)
Note – The peninsula doesn’t really count because it is in a different climate zone and fails the rule where it can’t warm up due to significant nearby ocean warming. It is of course most exposed and vulnerable with it being surrounded by ocean water.
The majority of the continent in summer is below -20c and the majority of the rest is below -10c.
http://www.uni-koeln.de/math-nat-fak/geomet/meteo/winfos/synNNWWantarctis.gif
Calving of small/medium/huge icebergs are just the sign of this natural cycle where if there were to cease, this would be the most worrying situation. This article is just stating the obvious that many have already known for years.

Following up on my original post: I did manage to get over and see the last half or so of Eric’s talk. It was quite good, though the title was a bit misleading. It may have been a case of an abstract being submitted and then research going in a different direction between abstract submission (which was in early August) and the presentation.
In any event, it was a pretty interesting talk. Basically, a major mechanism of Antarctic change has been thought to be atmospheric circulation changes in the Antarctic. Eric’s result showed that while there is some link there, there actually appears to be more substantial links to mid-latitude and tropic circulation and SST. The talk didn’t address AGW except to say that warming in the tropical ocean has been linked to AGW, though uncertainties remain.
One of things I see in the broader community (journalists, policymakers, general public) is a tendency to oversimplify research, and particularly to make it an “either/or” proposition: either it is AGW or it is natural variability. In reality it is both and scientists may address various aspects of either. In this talk (and the press release) on his research, Eric focused on the natural variability. Just because the focus here was on natural variability, doesn’t mean he’s walking back from AGW.

Rational Debate

This is simply how many (most?) of the current “Team” or “top climate scientists” who’ve been pushing AGW the hardest will maintain their careers and reputations. Over time – a few years – they’ll just dribble out more and more papers that actually lean towards if not outright support “skeptical” viewpoints. The others in “the Team” or the extended team, won’t rip on them nearly as hard as they would have initially, primarily because of two things 1) the ‘offending’ papers are by part of the good ‘ol boy’s club team and will initially be only partial or weak deviations from ‘the cause’, and 2) they also see the writing on the wall, and that a gradual transition this way is their own path to salvation (of career & reputation that is).
Then after awhile, when someone tosses in their faces that their current science is now everything skeptics were claiming and directly contrary to their earlier stances, they’ll be able to just claim something along the lines of “no, that’s not what skeptics were saying, they were lying about us and our motives… The simple fact is, however, that all the early evidence we found using the most stringent and diligent scientific methods strongly supported a stance of AGW. As we learned more, and our technology advanced and more time passed, it became clear that the vast majority of climate change was actually naturally occurring, based on these very long cycles/other factors that we had no way of knowing existed earlier.” In other words, “gee, don’t blame me, we’ve been doing GREAT science from day one, and just telling you what the science tells us, and building on the our earlier findings is what allowed us to discover the real truth” In other words, the polite spin on “nothing to see here, move along.”
It’ll be a total spin job, at which we’ve already seen these AGW people excel. It’s the “long con” scientists’ version of “What the Captain Means” (warning, while this one is a golden oldie for many pilots & quite humorous because of the massive blatant spin, it definitely gets a major crude language alert!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQ1AYVcAS7k

Rational Debate – you suggest that AGWers will eventually wriggle out using a long and complex excuse. History tells us otherwise, they will simply switch without a word. If they are nailed as Stephen Schneider was here (go to 41:40) ..
http://anhonestclimatedebate.wordpress.com/2009/08/09/must-see-video-greenhouse-conspiracy/
.. they will say “I was one who was .. not sure” and not even blink while saying it.
More on Stephen Schneider here:
http://www.john-daly.com/schneidr.htm
I have not read Stephen Schneider’s book, The Genesis Strategy, but a G R Morton says of it “It is about how near term cooling of the earth’s climate would cause famines around the world.“.
http://themigrantmind.blogspot.com/2009/12/old-failed-prediction-of-global-warming.html
The better-known (on WUWT at least) W M Connolley says of it “This book is occaisionally [sic] cited as, in some vague way, predicting ice ages. It does no such thing, of course, but its [sic] interesting to see what it is really about“.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this statement by W M Connolley is that the next sentence is “I haven’t read the whole book, just skimmed it quickly.“.
http://www.wmconnolley.org.uk/sci/iceage/schneider-genesis.html