Why Antarctic Sea Ice Is the Better Climate Change Indicator

Guest essay by Jim Steele, Director emeritus Sierra Nevada Field Campus, San Francisco State University

Global warming theory predicts that rising levels of CO2 will gradually warm the air and cause an increasing loss of sea ice. As temperatures rise, ice nearer the equator was predicted to be the first to disappear and over the coming decades ice closer to the poles would be the last to melt. However that is not the reality we are now observing. Antarctic sea ice is mostly located outside the Antarctic Circle (Figure 1) and should be the first to melt due to global warming theory. Yet Antarctic sea ice has been increasing and expanding towards the equator contradicting all the models. As Dr. Laura Landrum from the National Center for Atmospheric Research wrote, “Antarctic sea ice area exhibits significant decreasing annual trends in all six [model] ensemble members from 1950 to 2005, in apparent contrast to observations that suggest a modest ice area increase since 1979.”10 (see Figure 2)


In contrast, most of the Arctic sea ice exists inside the Arctic Circle and should be last to melt. However during the Arctic’s coldest winters, Barents Sea ice still melts deep inside the Arctic circle. While cold March air temperatures maintained maximum ice further south in the Hudson Bay and Bering Sea, much of the Barents Sea has been ice-free. In 2012 the more southerly Bering Sea ice set records for maximum extent, similar to the maximum sea ice currently observed in the Antarctic. Clearly global greenhouse gases cannot be the cause of melting inside the Arctic, while simultaneously sea ice is expanding in the Bering Sea and the southern hemisphere. However ocean currents and natural ocean oscillations readily explain such behavior. Counter to the media hype, it is Antarctic sea ice that should be the most sensitive indicator of climate change caused by greenhouse gases because the Arctic sea ice is affected by too many other confounding factors.


Arctic vs Antarctic sea ice

1) Sea ice melts deep inside the Arctic Circle during the coldest of winters because warm water from the Atlantic and the Pacific intrude and melt the ice from below. During the past two decades scientists have observed an increase in the volume of warm water penetrating deep inside the Arctic Circle, which then preconditioned the polar ice cap for a greater loss of summer ice.3,8 Changes in the North Atlantic/Arctic Oscillation affect how much heated water is driven into the Arctic, which then causes the widespread melt seen in the Barents Sea and adjoining Kara Sea. Similarly the warm phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation drives more warm water through the Bering Strait into the Chukchi Sea.2,5,8


In contrast for millions of years the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) has created a formidable barrier that prevents any similar warm water intrusions. (The ACC is discussed further at the end of this essay). Therefore changes in Antarctic sea ice are not confounded by warm water intrusions, making Antarctic sea ice a better indicator of the effects of rising CO2 concentrations.

2) Any trend in the degree of summer melt in the Arctic is further confounded by the fluctuating concentrations of thin first year ice. Because continents surround the Arctic Ocean, Arctic Sea ice undergoes cycles of accumulating or reducing the amount of thick, multi-year sea ice that resists melting.2 When the winds pile sea ice against the Arctic shoreline, thicker multi-year ice accumulates. When the winds shift, that thicker ice is blown out past Svalbard into the north Atlantic, and is replaced by thinner, first-year ice that more readily melts each summer. The amount of multi-year ice in the Arctic is controlled by the direction of the winds and the Arctic oscillation.2 It was not warmer temperatures that removed the thickest Arctic Ice, but sub-freezing winds blowing from the coldest regions in the northern hemisphere.4,5

Due to the constraints of the continents, the maximum extent of Arctic sea ice in 1979 covered about 15 million square kilometers. In contrast, Antarctic sea ice is unconstrained by continental boundaries and each winter winds blowing from the cold Antarctic interior push the sea ice much further towards the equator. By September the sea ice covers 16 to 17 million square kilometers of the Antarctic Ocean, nearly 40% of the southern hemisphere’s ocean surface. Because sea ice is less likely to be piled against a shoreline to form thicker multi‑year ice, most of the Antarctic sea ice is relatively thin, first‑year ice.

(Measurements of sea ice extent differ depending on what concentration of ice cover is used as the threshold between ice and “no ice”. For example, by using a lower concentration, some authors report that Antarctica’s maximum coverage reaches 20 million km2. Here we use statistics supplied by the University of Illinois’ website The Cryosphere Today to allow an accessible comparison of the Arctic and Antarctic)

Despite more extensive winter ice, each summerAntarctic sea ice retreats much more rapidly than Arctic sea ice. Antarctica’s first-year ice can quickly shrink to a less than two million square kilometers. Even during the Arctic’s “historic” summer lows of 2007 and 2012, the Arctic still retained more sea ice than the Antarctic.

When the Arctic Oscillation shifts and blows thick multi-year ice out into the northern Atlantic, the Arctic is dominated by first year ice that behaves just like the rapidly melting Antarctic sea ice. A season of rapid summer melt is normal wherever first‑year ice predominates, whether it occurs in the Arctic or Antarctic, and is not an indicator of rising air temperatures. For example off the coast of Alaska, climate scientists reported a more rapid summer melt even though air temperatures were colder than average, simply because the winds had removed the thicker multi-year ice which was replaced with more rapidly melting first year ice.

Climate scientists acknowledge that due to Arctic Oscillation’s natural variability, “detection of possible long-term trends induced by greenhouse gas warming [is] most difficult.”3 Therefore because the confounding percentages of trapped multi-year ice fluctuates greatly in the Arctic, trends in Antarctica’s sea ice are again a much cleaner indicator of global climate change.

3) There is so much warm, salty Atlantic and Pacific water lurking just 100 meters below Arctic Ocean’s surface, that it could melt the winter ice completely several times over. As climate scientists noted, ““There are arguments in support of an important role for oceanic heat in shaping the Arctic pack ice. They are often keyed to the presence of warm intermediate-depth (150–900 m) water of Atlantic origin” 3 Sea ice insulates the ocean surface from the stirring effects of the wind that will raise those warmer waters from intermediate depths. However once the insulating layer of ice is removed, the formation of thicker ice is delayed because the winds will now stir and raise warm subsurface waters. For example even when the Pacific Decadal Oscillation shifted to its cool phase and the volume of intruding Pacific water was reduced, the stirring effect of the winds still caused greater summer melt.6

4) When the effects of ventilating heat are removed, air temperatures show little warming. Most of the warming in the Arctic has not been caused by CO2‑warmed air from above, but from the ventilated warmth from Atlantic and Pacific waters. In addition to raising warmer water from below, thinner ice also allows more heat to ventilate than thicker ice. In fact before the insulating ice cover was blown out of the Arctic, climate scientists in the 1980s and 90s had measured a cooling trend writing, “In particular, we do not observe the large surface warming trends predicted by models; indeed, we detect significant surface cooling trends over the western Arctic Ocean during winter and autumn. This discrepancy suggests that present climate models do not adequately incorporate the physical processes that affect the polar regions.”1

Similarly if we examine winter air temperatures over the South Pole where heat from the ocean is not a factor, again there is no warming trend (Figure 4). In fact there is a slight cooling during the months of April May and June, which is consistent with the increasing Antarctic sea ice.


A Natural Experiment Has Begun

In 2010 Michael Mann and 8 other climate scientists wrote to Secretary Ken Salazar suggesting climate change had imperiled the polar bears stating, “Scientific studies and observations indicate that climate change is more rapid and pronounced in the Arctic than in other areas of the world. Data and modeling studies repeatedly document that the geography, ice albedo feedback and cloud feedbacks make this region extremely sensitive to climate forcings. The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) found that the Arctic has warmed at twice the rate of the rest of the globe on average, and some areas have warmed even faster. Mean annual temperatures in Alaska have increased by 1.9 degrees Celsius in the past 50 years, almost three times the global average over the same time period, and by 3.5 degrees Celsius in winter, as reported by the U.S. Global Change Research Program.” They predicted, “Under current greenhouse gas emissions trends, Arctic summer sea ice has been projected to disappear in the 2030s or before, as reported by several recent studies.”

Oddly, Mann did not address the changes in intruding warm water or the Arctic Oscillation and Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). It was the greater volume of warm water that had passed through the Bering Strait that had caused the extensive loss of sea ice in the Chukchi Sea in 2007 resulting in the historic summer low. But all that is now changing. Mann’ alarming trend of rising Alaskan temperatures has already reversed with the shifting to the PDO cool phase and Alaska is becoming the most rapidly cooling region on the globe, cooling by 1.3°C for just the recent decade.9 As the PDO trends to its cool phase and less Pacific water enters the Chukchi Sea, its sea ice is also recovering.


Likewise the Barents and neighboring Kara Sea are most affected by warm intruding Atlantic water, but as the Arctic Oscillation trends negative, less Atlantic water is pumped towards the poles. The 2013 increase of Kara Sea ice is likely a result. Unlike the Arctic, Antarctic waters are not so affected by cycles of intruding warm water, and its growing sea ice suggests that rising greenhouse gases exert a very trivial effect.

As the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and Arctic Oscillation shift to their cool phases and solar activity wanes, natural climate cycles predict that Arctic sea ice should recover within the next 5 to 15 years. Climate models have demonstrated that Arctic sea ice can recover in just a few years after the winds change.7 Allowing for a lag effect as subsurface heat ventilates and thicker multiyear ice begins to accumulate, recovery could be swift. If so, CO2 advocates like Mann and his allies who have based their political and scientific authority on predictions that Arctic Sea Ice will disappear by 2030 will likely suffer embarrassing unprecedented scientific and political repercussions.

Antarctic Circumpolar Current

Antarctic Circumpolar Current’s (ACC) oceanic barrier was first established when continental drift separated Antarctica from the other continents several million years ago. This allowed an unimpeded flow and the ACC became the world’s greatest and most powerful current, moving a hundred times more water than the all the earth’s rivers combined. As it strengthened and isolated the seas inside the ACC, Antarctic waters cooled dramatically. Inside the ACC species requiring warmer water soon became extinct, and the ACC still maintains a formidable thermal barrier that has thwarted invasions by cold-blooded marine species. Since its establishment, true sharks, true crabs, and some families of barnacles are uniquely absent inside the ACC, and many of Antarctica’s remaining cold-blooded species are found nowhere else. In contrast, the Arctic Ocean has been invaded by many North Atlantic and Pacific species that can persist at lower depths in warmer subsurface waters that circulate throughout the entire Arctic. The ACC’s thermal barrier is also why the Antarctic pack ice symmetrically extends far beyond the Antarctic Circle (Figure 1).

Literature Cited

  1. Kahl, J., et al., (1993) Absence of evidence for greenhouse warming over the Arctic Ocean in the past 40 years. Nature 361, 335 – 337.
  2. Venegas, S. A., and L. A. Mysak, 2000: Is there a dominant timescale of natural climate variability in the Arctic? J. Climate, 13, 3412–3434.
  3. Polyakov, I., et al., (2010) Arctic Ocean warming contributes to reduced polar ice cap. Journal of Physical. Oceanography, vol. 40, p. 2743–2756. doi: 10.1175/2010JPO4339.1.
  4. Rigor, I.G. and J.M. Wallace (2004), Variations in the Age of Sea Ice and Summer Sea Ice Extent, Geophys. Res. Lett., v. 31, doi:10.1029/2004GL019492.
  5. Rigor, I.G., J.M. Wallace, and R.L. Colony (2002), Response of Sea Ice to the Arctic Oscillation, J. Climate, v. 15, no. 18, pp. 2648 – 2668.
  6. Shimada, K. et al. , (2006) Pacific Ocean inflow: Influence on catastrophic reduction of sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean. Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 33, L08605, doi:10.1029/2005GL025624.
  7. Tietsche, S.,et al. (2011) Recovery mechanisms of Arctic summer sea ice. Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 38, L02707, doi:10.1029/2010GL045698.
  8. Woodgate, R., et al. (2006) Interannual changes in the Bering Strait fluxes of volume, heat and freshwater between 1991 and 2004. Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 33, L15609, doi:10.1029/2006GL026931
  9. Wendler,G., et al. (2012) The First Decade of the New Century: A Cooling Trend for Most of Alaska. The Open Atmospheric Science Journal, 2012, 6, 111-116
  10. Landrum, L., et al. (2012) Antarctic Sea Ice Climatology, Variability, and Late Twentieth-Century Change in CCSM4. Journal of Climate, vol. 25, p. 4817‑4838.

Adapted from Landscapes & Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism


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Silly man! The Antarctic ice is the wrong sort of ice so we can safely ignore it.

Of significance is that the area covered by Antarctic sea ice has the least local to regional scale anthropogenic influences of anywhere on Earth. Thus it will be the place where any global climate change signal will clearest.
The increasing Antarctic sea ice indicates that the cooling that began around 2006 is a real global climate signal. Further, the late 20th century surface resulted from local to regional scale anthropogenic effects and not from a global effect.


***take a bow, anthony et al:
22 July: BBC: David Shukman: Why has global warming stalled?
In many ways, this event was long overdue: climate sceptics have for years pointed out that the world is not warming as rapidly as once forecast…
***Gradually the words ‘pause’ and ‘hiatus’ which first featured in the blogs have crossed to the media and then to the scientists professionally engaged in researching the global climate.
The headline – which the scientists will not thank me for – is that no one is really sure why the rate of warming has stumbled…
There are plenty of possible explanations but none of them adds up to a definitive smoking gun…
On top of that, the scientists say, pauses in warming were always to be expected. This is new – at least to me.
It is common sense that climate change would not happen in a neat, linear away but instead in fits and starts.
But I’ve never heard leading researchers mention the possibility before…
Professor Rowan Sutton, of Reading University, said computer simulations or models of possible future climate scenarios often show periods of ten years with no warming trend – some even show pauses of 20-25 years.
And Professor Stephen Belcher, head of the Met Office Hadley Centre, said observations and models showed that on average there were – or would be – two pauses in warming every century.
I asked why this had not come up in earlier presentations. No one really had an answer, except to say that this “message” about pauses had not been communicated widely…
But what about another possibility – that the calculations are wrong?
What if the climate models – which are the very basis for all discussions of what to do about global warming – exaggerate the sensitivity of the climate to rising carbon dioxide?
Dr Stott conceded that the projections showing the most rapid warming now look less likely, given recent observations, but that others remain largely unchanged…
But until the pause can be properly explained, many people will take a lot of convincing – especially if the pause lasts longer than expected.


Great post. Thank you very much. I am leaning 60-40 toward buying your book, instead of waiting for the library to get it.
It seems clear that the “consensus” view toward AGW has been shifting as more data becomes apparent. At first the clear indicator would be CO2 forced runaway growth in global atmospheric temperature and “everybody” knew that. Now it seems that hypothesis is heading toward rejection. Then the clear signal would be extremes of weather, and every storm or heat wave was a sure sign of that. Dr. Pielke seems to have done a good job of rejecting that hypothesis for the present, and showing that any signal to that effect would not be evident for decades. Then the clear signal was sea ice and rising ocean levels. Now that one seems in the process of being rejected as a clear signal as well.
The mantle of the clear indicator seems to be falling on ocean heat content, and secondarily an associated sea level rise. Even SkS now has a post titled “Why doesn’t the temperature rise at the same rate that CO2 increases?” (Don’t bother to look). But it is significant that even a bastion of enthusiasm for AGW such as SkS is now admitting temperatures are not going up according to predicted model forcings. The argument now is that AGW is pumping up the heat content of the oceans, somehow bypassing the atmosphere, and that an inexorable and catastrophic rise in ocean heat content will wreak havoc soon.
I have poked around googlescholar for references on ocean heat budgets and the like without much success, but I am not even a climate scientist, much less an ocean specialist. However, I can wade through clearly written papers that are fairly free of large scale and arcane manipulations of databases. The ocean pages here have several good references with respect to currents and decadal oscillations, but I have yet to find some good references on global ocean heat budget. What I have found scares me in that it looks like much of what happens is somewhat local, not global, and that convection plays a pivotal role, negating all my simple minded excel calculations involving volumes of water in shells 700m-2000m apart, the specific heat of sea water, etc. Can someone supply some good references on ocean heat content and budget? The content seems covered fairly well. On the budget I have found less.
Thanks again for a good post.

William McClenney

Presume yourself to be awake, here, at the half-precession-cycle-old Holocene extreme interglacial.
Then consider the bipolar-seesaw-effect at the most recent end extreme post-MPT interglacial….
“…the end of the Last Interglacial seems to be characterized by evident climatic and environmental instabilities recorded by geochemical and vegetation indicators. The transition (MIS 5e/5d) from the Last Interglacial (Eemian, Mikulino) to the Early Last Glacial (Early Weichselian, Early Valdai) is marked by at least two warming events….”
Whereas in further consideration of:
“We propose that the interval between the “terminal” oscillation of the bipolar seesaw, preceding an interglacial, and its first major reactivation represents a period of minimum extension of ice sheets away from coastlines.”
““…thus, the first major reactivation of the bipolar seesaw would probably constitute an indication that the transition to a glacial state had already taken place.”
If you take the half-precession-old Holocene, plus a few centuries change into account, add Antarctic sea ice recently with respect to Arctic sea ice recently, did we just witness the “first major reactivation represents a period of minimum extension of ice sheets away from coastlines.”?
It appears to me that the most fundamental question we chould be asking in terms of climate change is just how long the Holocene will last………?

William McClenney

Wordmess (wordpress). Love it or whatever it.
Another stab at the link I posted earlier.

Larry Kirk

The Arctic and the Antarctic are incomparable in many ways. Another obvious factor affecting the extent of sea ice in one or the other area is that the Arctic polar ice cap floats on water, whereas the Antarctic polar ice cap sits on top of a land mass.
Thus, if the two icecaps were to be suddenly thickened from above by the same amount of additional ice, they would respond entirely differently:
The Arctic ice cap would respond by sinking down further into the underlying Arctic ocean, by at least 90% of the thickness of additional ice that was added (and possibly melting some of the base of the ice cap in underlying warmer waters). There would be virtually no outward spreading of ice by glacial flow and no resultant increase in sea ice extent.
The Antarctic ice cap on the other hand would respond almost entirely by flowing outward, glacially, supported on the solid surface of the underlying bedrock. The Antarctic ice cap would therefore spread out over the adjacent ocean surface, increasing the area of sea ice.
So as you can see, the two poles are completely incomparable in terms of the forces affecting the extent of sea ice, and of course we see this in reality, in their very different current modes of sea ice growth/shrinkage.
I don’t know much about sea ice formation in detail, but I would imagine that a large proportion of the Antarctic sea ice is generated by this flow outwards from the polar landmass, whilst almost all of the Arctic sea ice is generated by freezing of surface waters by cold air and then moved around, and is then moved around and accreted or dispersed / melted or further frozen by winds and ocean currents.
If so, the dominant factor affecting Antarctic sea ice extent would be precipitation over the Antarctic landmass, whereas the dominant factors affecting sea ice extent in the Arctic would be the temperature and direction of moving ocean and air currents.

Stephen Wilde

Stephen Wilde says:
September 20, 2009 at 3:05 pm
Changes in the northern ice pack are primarily 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.

William McClenney

Jeez…. You may have to invoke google.scholar.com and search for a portion of the title:
Instability of climate and vegetation dynamics
Copy the above into the “exact phrase” line of the expanded google.scholar.com main page….
Is this as far as we have come as a species or what?

I don’t know much about sea ice formation in detail, but I would imagine that a large proportion of the Antarctic sea ice is generated by this flow outwards from the polar landmass
No it isn’t.

Increases in Antarctic sea ice around maximum extent are far, roughly a thousand kms, from the icesheets that originate on the land. And we can differentiate sea ice from land origin ice by its thickness. Thus measures of sea ice versus land origin ice are likely accurate with 1% or so.

Precipitation over Antarctica has no effect on sea ice extent.
There are factors other than temperature that affect sea ice in the Arctic, particularly surface albedo, but Antarctic sea ice is almost wholly an effect of air and sea temperature.
Larry, everything you said was wrong. As I have previously note, evidence of the declining quality of warmist trolls.
[italics corrected. Mod]

Dang, messed up the italic close.

The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley

Larry, you could always look at the actual temperature, of course…
This is fairly typical of the very few recording stations that have a reasonable amount of data, i.e. there is no show of a rise in temperature in Antarctica. ALL the evidence of changing temps would seem to indicate a drop, not a rise. This is why ALL the talk is of the Arctic. Warmists don’t really want the Antarctic ice mentioned…and its run toward a record ice extent.


Does this mean you’ve found Kevin’s missing heat? It was there all along, hiding underneath the Artic ice!

Mk Urbo

Sorry, but I find the first few paragraphs (and references to figures) confusing. They take away from an otherwise significant article.

Antarctic sea ice formation is not only controlled by temperature, but also salinity, decoupling any simple temperature-ice extent relationship. http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI4136.1


Thank you Jim Steele for your article. The part that says ‘mean annual temperature in Alaska has increased by 1.9°C in the past 50 years – but has now cooled by 1.3°C for the last decade’ is interesting.
See Pat’s link (above) to the BBC’s science reporter, David Shukman, who asks why global warming has stalled?
pat says:
July 22, 2013 at 10:55 pm
***take a bow, anthony et al:
Yet another recent example of the BBC finally beginning to cast serious doubt on their CAGW principles. If this is so, I look forward to Chris Packham (from BBC’s ‘Spring/Autumn Watch’) admitting to his audience how Climate Change/Global Warming poses no real threat after all and that he, his fellow presenters and the producers have ‘cocked up’ over the last few years.


What seems to confirm to me as a layperson what’s been written here is the fact that at least for the last couple of years the “missing” ice compared to the long term average at the time of ice maximum in March seems to be uniquely in the open area close to and around Novaya Zemlya. And that seems to be the only area out of normal. In most of other regions there is no important decline (during the ice maximum, that is, minimum in September is different). I haven’t seen any explanation or even discussion of that. Usually there is only talk about the extent of the anomaly and not about the regional or zonal particularities. If the cause for the decline of Arctic sea ice would be rising global temperatures, the ice sheet would be declining everywhere, not just in one particular area, wouldn’t it? Has anyone witnessed the same thing and would anyone have a comment?


The other weird thing – NSIDC is always showing ice in the Gulf of Finland late into the summer. On their map, most of the Gulf of Finland is still covered with ice today, when people are swimming and the temperature of the water at the beaches is about +20C. That’s absurd! The ice disappeared in April, the last remnants in May, latest, like it always does, gentlemen.

Larry Kirk

Philip Bradley, what is a ‘warmist troll’? And how did you come to conclude that I might be one of these imaginary creatures? Actually I am a rather old geologist, who is inclined to a natural explanation for everything, particularly ‘global’ temperature change and related phenomena. You had me reading your comments seriously until you dropped suddenly into the name-calling cliches of the irrationally prejudiced. The last time I saw a troll, it was a small plastic toy with orange nylon hair in the hands of a five year old, but perhaps I am not up with the insultese of the Facebook generation.


Humm? All this additional ice creates more bottom water, (AABW)sinking to the ocean bottom, No missing heat here.
Per wik
“Antarctic bottom water is formed in the Weddell and Ross Seas from surface water cooling in polynyas and below the ice shelf. A unique feature of Antarctic bottom water is the cold surface wind blowing off the Antarctic continent. The surface wind creates the polynyas which opens up the water surface to more wind. This Antarctic wind is stronger during the winter months and thus the Antarctic bottom water is more pronounced during the Antarctic winter season.”
One of the other contributors to the AABW is brine rejection. When seawater freezes the salt works its way out in the form of very cold, very salty water. (I have seen a cool video of this) As this water is much saltier and much colder than the rest of the ocean water, it settles to the bottom. So, on the one hand, the source of AABW from brine rejection has increased, about 500,000 sq K or more over the past three decades, on the other hand there is that much less ocean to be affected by the winds. Humm? So far no source found on quantifying how much is produced by either of the two mechanics.

richard telford says:
July 23, 2013 at 1:02 am
Antarctic sea ice formation is not only controlled by temperature, but also salinity, decoupling any simple temperature-ice extent relationship.

A model.
Forgive me if I only trust empirical measurements. Of which incidentally there are none.

Larry Kirk says:
July 23, 2013 at 1:25 am
Philip Bradley, what is a ‘warmist troll’?

Your post had all the hallmarks of the warmist trolls we get here. Everything you said was wrong. Seemingly your only intent was to muddy the the waters, by throwing in false red herrings, if I may mix metaphors.
If your post was genuine, then I apologize.
I’d point out that increasing Antarctic sea ice extent is a huge problem for the AGWers, for the reasons I explained above and in previous threads. It normally brings the warmist paid trolls out in force.

Larry Kirk

Philip, you were doing alright up until the full stop after ‘Larry, everything you said was wrong’. But then, instead of enlarging on that statement and giving us the benefit of your scientific reasons for making it, all you had to offer was a self-aggrandising slur. Dang, as they say!
If you have relevant expertise and feel that you know what you are talking about, you might like to substantiate the above comment.

Grey Lensman

Possibly, the huge Russian nuclear Ice breakers also have an effect. They break the ice between sea and shore, thus enabling it to be blown away when the wind is right.

<i<Larry Kirk says:
July 23, 2013 at 2:01 am
See my post above where I messed up the italics. Everything after the first paragraph is my response.
And you are right my response to your response was self aggrandizing.
If you feel you have a substantive point from your first post worth persuing then do so.


Everybody can see that the sea ice in Antarctica is growing.
I don’t know where Dr. Laura Landrum from the National Center for Atmospheric Research is coming from.
The Antarctic glaciers might be a different story.
Does anybody know what’s going on with those?

John Spencer

Ok there are some Warmists that claim we will
be under 5 meters of water with melting ice.
And there are some Warmists who claim the north
pole will be gone in 5 years. So what do those
predictions look like against current ocean trends.
2005 = 1mm. Trend, mass. Actual.
2006 = 1mm
2007 = 1mm
2008 = 1mm
2009 = 1mm
2010 = 1mm
2011 = 1mm
2012 = 1mm
2013 = 1000mm. Warmist 5 Meters.
2014 = 1000mm
2015 = 1000mm
2016 = 1000mm
2017 = 1000mm
This might be a clue to the strange melt::

John Marshall

Interesting, many thanks Jim.
Another nail in the GHE coffin.


Though I found it.
She takes the 1950-2005 period.
Still no “significant decreasing annual trends”.


I have noticed over the last few years at this stage that there was a volume of rapid ice movement out through the Fram Strait into lower latitudes, caused by wind patterns..
This year the wind patterns have kept the ice going round in circles in the higher latitudes with much less loss through that route.

Kelvin Vaughan

John Spencer says:
July 23, 2013 at 2:44 am
This might be a clue to the strange melt::
Now that I can believe, and while governments are rushing up the wrong path the real cause is ignored.


Pray tell where all this “ventilated warmth” is going. Could the warmth be exiting the Earth out the top of the atmosphere? The roll back of Arctic ice could be another thermostat effect that controls the Earth’s temperature.
Another topic I rarely see addressed it the effect of fresh water diversion from the Arctic Ocean to agriculture in Asia. I believe that it is a layer of less dense fresh water on the surface of the Ocean that initiates the freezing of the water. Without the layer of fresh water, ice formation is pushed back into the winter when the air temperatures are lower.


When penguins leave the water, they do a nice high-speed jump onto the ice several feet from the edge. And they don’t weigh very much.
Polar bears, in the other hand, climb out with their big fat bodies, and break up the edges.
And so the Arctic sea ice is bound to erode faster than the Antartic.

David Shukman is predictably getting a lot of flak from warmist sycophants who hung on his every word when he was saying what they wanted to hear on his BBC blog. It would be great if WUWT readers could go over there en masse and give him some support by leaving comments and downrating sub-par warmist comments.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have a simple question. Can anyone point me to a prediction made more than ten years ago about the total ice coverage of planet earth that was made due to the CO2 theory that has come true? Karl Popper was big on making predictions as I recall from those long ago science classes at University.
We have had slow glacier melt for centuries, so predictions of a continuing slow melt would not count. I am looking of a risky prediction that came true. Anyone?

Richard M

Thank you, Jim Steele. This is almost exactly what I have been explaining to alarmists for the last 2-3 years. The oceans, PDO/AMO/NAO, control the amount of sea ice in the Arctic and I predicted it would return to much higher levels in about 10 years as the AMO cools.
Now I have a set of good references to back up my claims.
On the BBC article I just had to laugh. Once again they repeat all the alarmists excuses without informing their readers of all the facts. They ignore Antarctic sea ice and land ice increases; they ignore the pause is different than the ones found in the models, i.e. ENSO neutral at both ends and RSS starts well before 1998; they ignore the ocean cycles correlate to the last 100 years of global temperature at .98 while CO2 is .46 and matches Pacific Ocean temperatures almost perfectly; they ignore the Arctic sea ice is explained by the warm PDO/AMO; they ignore we have been cooling while approaching a solar maximum, etc.
None of the main skeptic points are provided. While they have mentioned the pause they are still neck deep in propaganda.

Dr. Deanster

So …. how does this play in the picture
It would make sense to me that more fresh water runoff would lead to more antarctic ice. I by no means am an advocate for CAGW … but I am an open mind to mechanism. I don’t see any link between the increase melt in ice and CO2, but warmer oceans producted by decreased clouds as noted here:
… would be consistent with an increase in antarctic ice formation. Thoughts??


2012 set a new record high for ice extent around Antarctica, but Figure 2 does not reflect that. Why?

Larry Kirk

Hi Philip,
My only point was that the Arctic and Antarctic polar caps are so fundamentally different, the one floating on water but enclosed almost entirely by landmasses, the other sitting on a continental landmass but surrounded entirely by ocean, that one cannot really compare the two in order to prove a point, one way or the other. It’s just not comparing apples with apples.
So it seems ridiculous to look at one pole and say: “That proves my point!”, or to look at the other pole and say: “No, that proves my point!”
In reality I don’t think anybody has very much clue what is going on at either end of the Earth. The North pole is quite probably just melting a bit because it does that sometimes, and the south pole is probably doing whatever it is doing because it does that sometimes too.
And the two polar ice caps are so different that you cannot consider either of them separately, or the two of them together, and come to any definite conclusion as to what is happening to ‘global’ temperature or heat retention.
As for the question of ‘Warmist’ or ‘Coldist’ trolls, pixies and troglodytes, you should probably leave Anthony to police them. He seems rather good at it in his own entertainingly acerbic way.
You don’t have to divide people into ‘for’ or ‘against’, good or evil, or friends and enemies of the cause. Most people aren’t anything of the sort. Most of them are just open minded and curious. The few who choose some extreme stance, and then rush to attack anyone they think isn’t singing their tune, are probably being a bit irrational.
With regards,

Gail Combs

FAH says: @ July 22, 2013 at 10:57 pm
Try Niv Shaviv (physics professor) – The oceans as a calorimeter

Gail Combs
Gail Combs

Grey Lensman says:
July 23, 2013 at 2:12 am
Possibly, the huge Russian nuclear Ice breakers also have an effect….
I have often wonder about just how much effect Ice breakers have had. Smaller chunks of ice + wind + warm water ==> more ice melt

Gail Combs

FerdinandAkin says: @ July 23, 2013 at 3:23 am
…Another topic I rarely see addressed it the effect of fresh water diversion from the Arctic Ocean to agriculture in Asia….
Do you have any links backing that information up? I could not find any.

@richard telford says: Antarctic sea ice formation is not only controlled by temperature, but also salinity, decoupling any simple temperature-ice extent relationship. http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI4136.1
The paper you link to is laughable and one of the many attempts to suggest growing sea ice is caused by warming. The argument is warming causes melting, causes more fresh water that freezes more readily. If realistic it should hold true in the Arctic. Such failed logic is also possible only when they use an obscuring global average. Studies that break down the local dynamics find where the temperatures are colder there is more ice.

richard verney

steveta_uk says:
July 23, 2013 at 3:29 am
Save the Arctic ice, exterminate the Polar Bears.
I wonder when we will see that eco slogan!

Gail Combs

markstoval says:
July 23, 2013 at 4:18 am
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have a simple question….
We have had slow glacier melt for centuries, so predictions of a continuing slow melt would not count….
How about this?

Norway Experiencing Greatest Glacial Activity in the past 1,000 year
… I point out many examples of glaciers that have only formed in the past few thousand years. I am always looking at new data as it becomes available and recently there was a nice study in Quaternary Research that did a study on glacial activity in Norway for the past ~8,000 years. This is the kind of study I love to find because it covers a long period of time that includes the current period. It is surprising how few studies cover a range like this….
This study is not an anomaly either. Any study of the Northern Hemisphere shows this exact overall behavior. The NH was warmer several thousand years ago, even though the CO2 level was lower. There has been a general cooling trend throughout the NH over the past 4,000 years. It is not steady by any means over a period of a few hundred years, but over the course of thousands of years it is very steady. This is simply one more study that shows the same thing.

We explore the possibility of building a continuous glacier reconstruction by analyzing the integrated sedimentary response of a large (440 km2) glacierized catchment in western Norway, as recorded in the downstream lake Nerfloen (N61°56′, E6°52′). A multi-proxy numerical analysis demonstrates that it is possible to distinguish a glacier component in the ~8000-yr-long record, based on distinct changes in grain size, geochemistry, and magnetic composition. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) reveals a strong common signal in the 15 investigated sedimentary parameters, with the first principal component explaining 77% of the total variability. This signal is interpreted to reflect glacier activity in the upstream catchment, an interpretation that is independently tested through a mineral magnetic provenance analysis of catchment samples. Minimum glacier input is indicated between 6700-5700 cal yr BP, probably reflecting a situation when most glaciers in the catchment had melted away, whereas the highest glacier activity is observed around 600 and 200 cal yr BP. During the local Neoglacial interval (~4200 cal yr BP until present), five individual periods of significantly reduced glacier extent are identified at ~3400, 3000-2700, 2100-2000, 1700-1500, and ~900 cal yr BP.

The authors simply state that most glaciers likely didn’t exist 6,000 years ago, but the highest period of the glacial activity has been in the past 600 years. Seems pretty straightforward to me.

Of course it shows exactly the opposite of what you are saying.


Global warming theory predicts that rising levels of CO2 will gradually warm the air and cause an increasing loss of sea ice. As temperatures rise, ice nearer the equator was predicted to be the first to disappear and over the coming decades ice closer to the poles would be the last to melt.
Where are these predictions documented? This is contrary to my understanding of the ‘global warming’ predictions, which included polar amplification …

Rob Ricket

Well, this is an interesting read and I closely monitor polar sea ice extents. Dr. Steel’s thesis fails to Account for the apperent inverse relationship between Arctic and Antarctic ice extents. If the ACC contained singularly insular properties, the Antarctic sea ice extent should not exhibit the variability observed over the past 35 years.
Clearly, other factors (besides very modest delta t’s) are influencing the Antarctic sea ice extent. Nonetheless, the current aggregate polar extent is running well above the 30 mean. IMHO, the Antarctic extent will smash previous records in September.


As the Sun’s output is reduced, UV down to long term low levels [easily monitored by the Flux], the Trade Winds will decrease. This will cause the Oceans currents [forget that ridiculous salinity thing], to decrease. The PDO and AO will “go away” since they are driven by the currents. Both Arctic and Antarctic ice will “increase suddenly”, actually due to reduced deep warm currents and limited Summer melting.
As the Earth’s orbit [and Earth tilt] causes the apparent moving of the Sun to the Tropic of Capricorn, this year will be the essential end of Solar Cycle 24. Between Cycle 24 and Cycle 25 [25 is projected to be less than 24], we will experience the “New Cold” due to non-existent Solar heating [simply a quiet Sun with virtually no Sunspots or Flux activity].
Glaciers will begin to increase in depth and movement to the Oceans will be reduced. Oceans levels will begin to fall and the Indonesian, Gulf of Mexico Bulges will shrink.
The most interesting event will be the “immense cold and snow” that East Anglia will experience this coming Winter! Reduced Gulf Steam flow and temperatures will be ignored, or stated as a natural event, or due to rising CO2.

An Inquirer

Mr. Steele’s article sounds plausible and logical. Yet, I do not believe that fluctuating ocean currents are the total answer to trends in Arctic ice. Carbon deposits from China’s industrialization seem to also play a role.