NASA Announces New Record Growth Of Antarctic Sea Ice Extent

Researchers have measured a new record for sea-ice extent in the Antarctic. Why the white splendour is extending there while it is rapidly disappearing in the Arctic is a mystery.

Antarktis: Die Ausdehnung des Meereises (weiß) hat am 22. September einen Rekord erreicht. Die gelbe Linie zeigt den Median der Jahre 1981 bis 2000. Schelfeis ist grau dargestellt.

Antarctica: The extent of sea ice (white) reached a record on 22 September. The yellow line shows the median of 1981 to 2000. Ice shelf is shown in gray.

Whenever the ice at the North and South Pole is mentioned, it is mostly in the context of melting ice triggered by global warming. However, the sea ice in Antarctica – in contrast to that in the Arctic – has proved to be remarkably robust. New measurements have now confirmed that. As the U.S. space agency NASA announced, the sea ice in the Antarctic has extended over an area of ​​19.47 million square meters at the end of September. That is the highest since measurements began in 1979.

 

The result is based on data from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) on board of the Japanese satellite “GCOM-W1″. “The winter maximum has been a record for on the second consecutive year” said Walt Meier, a meteorologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. However, he stressed that it is by no means a rapid growth: The now measured maximum extent is only 3.6 percent above the average maximum extent of 1981 to 2010. “This year, the ice edge extends therefore only 35 kilometres further out to sea than in an average year,” Meier said.

Moreover, the mere extent of sea ice does not necessarily say something about the volume of the ice, because that also depends on the thickness of the frozen layer. And the vast majority of the Antarctic ice mass is located on the Antarctic continent – and there the ice has decreased in recent years as a whole, particularly in West Antarctica.

But why the sea ice is increasing is a mystery. Scientists suspect that a change in the air currents could explain to a great extent the increase in Antarctic sea ice in recent decades. Other speculations are that ocean currents carry cooler surface water to the Antarctic or that the melting water, which flows through massive channels in the ice, decreases the temperature of the surface sea water.

Translation by Philipp Mueller

See full article at Spiegel Online, 21 October 2013

NSIDC Press Room

Press Release: Arctic sea ice avoids last year’s record low; Antarctic sea ice edges out last year’s high

2013 Arctic sea ice minimum

Arctic sea ice extent for September 2013 was 5.35 million square kilometers (2.07 million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1981 to 2010 median extent for that month. The black cross indicates the geographic North Pole.Credit: NSIDC

High-resolution image

The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) is part of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. NSIDC scientists provide Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis content, with partial support from NASA.

This September, sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean fell to the sixth lowest extent in the satellite record, which began in 1979. All of the seven lowest extents have occurred in the last seven years, since 2007. Satellite data analyzed by NSIDC scientists showed that the sea ice cover reached its lowest extent on September 13. Sea ice extent averaged for the month of September was also the sixth lowest in the satellite record.

“A relatively cool and stormy summer helped slow ice loss compared to the last few summers,” said NSIDC scientist Julienne Stroeve. In contrast to 2012, when sea ice reached a new record low in the satellite record, cooler conditions in the Arctic this summer helped to retain more sea ice. “This summer’s extent highlights the complex interaction between natural climate variability and long-term thinning of the ice cover,” Stroeve said.

“For Earth’s ice and snow cover taken as a whole, this year has been a bit of a bright spot within a long-term sobering trend,” said NSIDC director and senior scientist Mark Serreze.

Arctic sea ice, however, continues to be thinner than in past years, as confirmed by direct satellite observations and estimates of ice age, and therefore more vulnerable to breakup by storms, circulating currents, and melt. “While Earth’s cryosphere, that is, its snow and ice cover, got a shot of hope this year, it’s likely to be only a short-term boost,” Serreze said. While most of the ice cover now consists of young, thin ice, a pack of multiyear ice remains in the central Arctic. Multiyear ice is ice that has survived more than one melt season and is thicker than first-year ice.

Arctic sea ice extent reached its lowest point this year on September 13, 2013 when sea ice extent dropped to 5.10 million square kilometers (1.97 million square miles). Averaged over the month of September, ice extent was 5.35 million square kilometers (2.07 million square miles). This places 2013 as the sixth lowest ice extent, both for the daily minimum extent and the monthly average. September ice extent was 1.17 million square kilometers (452,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 average.

The Arctic ice cap grows each winter as the sun sets for several months and shrinks each summer as the sun rises higher in the northern sky. Each year the Arctic sea ice reaches its annual minimum extent in September. It hit a new record low in 2012. This summer’s low ice extent continued the downward trend seen over the last thirty-four years. Scientists attribute this trend in large part to warming temperatures caused by climate change. Since 1979, September Arctic sea ice extent has declined by 13.7 percent per decade. Summer sea ice extent is important because, among other things, it reflects sunlight, keeping the Arctic region cool and moderating global climate.

In addition to the decline in sea ice extent, a two-dimensional measure of the ice cover, the ice cover has grown thinner and less resistant to summer melt. Recent data on the age of sea ice, which scientists use to estimate the thickness of the ice cover, shows that the youngest, thinnest ice, which has survived only one or two melt seasons, now makes up the majority of the ice cover.

As the Arctic was reaching its minimum extent for the year, Antarctic sea ice was reaching record high levels, culminating in a Southern Hemisphere winter maximum extent of 19.47 million square kilometers (7.52 million square miles) on September 22. The September 2013 monthly average was also a record high, at 19.77 million square kilometers (7.63 million square miles) slightly higher than the previous record in 2012. Scientists largely attribute the increase in Antarctic sea ice extent to stronger circumpolar winds, which blow the sea ice outward, increasing extent.

In contrast to the sharp downward trend in September Arctic sea ice, Antarctic September sea ice has been increasing at 1.1 percent per decade relative to the 1981 to 2010 average. “The tiny gain in Antarctica’s ice is an interesting puzzle for scientists,” said NSIDC lead scientist Ted Scambos. “The rapid loss of ice in the Arctic should be ringing alarm bells for everyone.”

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more at the WUWT sea ice page

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CodeTech

And the vast majority of the Antarctic ice mass is located on the Antarctic continent – and there the ice has decreased in recent years as a whole, particularly in West Antarctica.

Says who? When did this happen? That’s not even remotely a correct OR possibly correct statement!

Michael D

When they say “This places 2013 as the sixth lowest ice extent, both for the daily minimum extent and the monthly average,” I think they mean “annual minimum extent.” And the NSIDC graph at the top of the WUWT sea ice page shows this year’s minimum well with 2 standard deviations of observations since 1981. But I suppose saying “well with 2 standard deviations” would have conveyed a different (read “wrong”) story vs. “sixth lowest ice extent.”

GB_Dorset

Considering hysteresis the 2013 recovery in Arctic ice to just 6th lowest is remarkable. So too is the spin the so called scientists put on all this.

Patrick Adelaide

Oh dear. Never satisfied, are they? The figures are interesting enough but their conclusion of “alarm bells” seems strained and tragic. I wouldn’t really care but these guys are the ones getting the media attention.

Richard

Melting water decreases the temp of the seawater………….
Hmm something a bit weird about this statement,

Typo, should be sq km, not sq m
“As the U.S. space agency NASA announced, the sea ice in the Antarctic has extended over an area of ​​19.47 million square meters at the end of September. That is the highest since measurements began in 1979.”

Other_Andy

“And the vast majority of the Antarctic ice mass is located on the Antarctic continent – and there the ice has decreased in recent years as a whole, particularly in West Antarctica.”
As average Antarctic temperatures have not increased since 1979 either something else must be causing this (Less precipitation? volcanic activity in West Antarctica?) or they are telling porkies.

The Engineer

Propoganda is when one forgets to mention that “tiny gain” is of roughly equal proportions to “rapid loss” of ice.

Peter Jones

“Other speculations are that ocean currents carry cooler surface water to the Antarctic or that the melting water, which flows through massive channels in the ice, decreases the temperature of the surface sea water.”
This is totally expected because the warmer seawater knows to hide in the deep oceans in order to avoid monitoring.

Malcolm

“The rapid loss of ice in the Arctic should be ringing alarm bells for everyone.”
They can’t just regard it as an interesting observation – we’re told that we need to be fearful of what we’re seeing. These people seem unable to report soberly and objectively on anything, such is the MO of climate alarmism. Instead, all measured changes in the climate need to be seen as a sign of something ominous.

Phillip Bratby

“For Earth’s ice and snow cover taken as a whole, this year has been a bit of a bright spot within a long-term sobering trend,” So more snow and ice cover is a good thing is it? Give me less snow and ice please.

Yes Peter Jones –>
C’est vrai! The very cold freshwater melting from Antarctica lies over the warm denser sea water preventing it from radiating its heat into space and thus inducing “Global Warming”. This is very special melt water from below the surface (as the surface never gets above 0 C even in the summer, average annual interior surface temperature -57 C). This is water produced from high pressures from under the glacial ice and as everyone knows, the experts (old has beens and drips under pressure) have told us that when pressure increases, temperatures go up, and even solids can flow like rivers, so rather than an “Atmospheric River”, we have “Sub-Glacial Rivers” pouring into the Antarctic, creating the Antarctic Current, cooling the surface waters and causing Catastrophic Global Warming. Voila!! C’est simplement, n’est pa?
/sarc off

Jimmy Haigh.

“Why the white splendour is extending there while it is rapidly disappearing in the Arctic is a mystery.”
Hmm?
People suffering from the cold northern hemisphere winters we’ve had for the last 5 years or so don’t call it a “white slpendour”.
The ice is not “rapidly disappearing” in the Arctic – it is rapidly recovering.
The question could equally be asked thus: “Why the white splendour is ‘disappearing’ there (from the Arctic) while it is rapidly expanding in the Antarctic is a mystery.”

rtj1211

Until we have seen a 20 year phase of cooling akin to the 1977 – 1998 phase of warming, it’s really quite hard to see how arctic sea ice waxes and wanes, with what lag time etc etc.
Too much attempts at science without enough long-term, real-time experimental data right now.

Peter Miller

Just like Peter Jones says, it is clear the heat has been somehow spirited downwards and away to the deep ocean abysses, where it cannot be measured.
So, this is the obvious reason for the exceptional extent of the Antarctic ice sheet. C’mon alarmists, you are the ones who suggested this.
Also, when I look at the Arctic ice anomaly, I cannot help but feel that a ‘bottom’ has been forming – at least, that is what a stock market technical analyst might conclude.

Jan Smit

“The tiny gain in Antarctica’s ice is an interesting puzzle for scientists,” … “The rapid loss of ice in the Arctic should be ringing alarm bells for everyone.”
Let’s just rephrase that, shall we:
“The … gain in Antarctica’s ice” means scientists will have a difficult time fitting this fact into their Anthropogenic Thermageddon paradigm. Whereas, “The … loss of ice in the Arctic” is just the kind of decontexualized ‘fact’ we need to scare everybody witless so we can pick their wallets without them noticing.
And Charlie Brown said…

jono1066

Arctic sea ice extent is low , we should be worried,
let us send many many warm student there to see it before it goes, let us send warm researchers there quickly with energy using instruments,
let us drill holes in it to check it, let us fly over it with warm engines continuously to measure and photograph
let us smash our way through it with big warm icebreaker ships and be proud we have done it
and gues what…
sea ice extent is low, we should be worried
(but only about our species stupidity to think we can affect it)

mogamboguru

The last time I looked at Anthony’s splendid Sea Ice Page – which was yesterday, as I am used to look at it on a daily basis for the past three years already – the actual extend of antarctic sea ice not only offsets, but EXCEEDS the actual “loss” of arctic sea ice by a good margin.
So, when speaking about a dangerous melting of ice at the poles due to “global” warming, it’s high time to reassure the World that, according to this easily measurable and comprehensible scale, AGW has been pronounced dead.
I volunteer to write the respective press release.

wayne

“The rapid loss of ice in the Arctic should be ringing alarm bells for everyone.”
“The rapid re-growth of ice in the Arctic should be ringing alarm bells for everyone.”
There, better, especially ringing a bell for those living further up north. This winter may not be a doozy but the ones ten years off will be, and that is nearly guaranteed unless the sixty year cycle seen in the temperature records is but a fleeting past curiosity. Upward adjustments made to the temperature records are not energy! They have no power to warm! Warning!

Some years ago, one Chick Keller explained to John Daly that the reason for the lack of warming in Antarctica wasn’t due to climate, it was due to the “unusual weather” that one gets there.

Ian W

Any so called ‘scientific’ report that includes such emotional terms as ‘alarm bells’ should be withdrawn and the authors removed from post. This NASA report shows how deep the proselytizing has penetrated into government science, and it is not only in climate science that this has happened. In other news the similarly emotional ‘government advice on low fat diets demonizing fatty fast food is now having to reverse too; as it has been shown that high fat is good for you – but the scientists forgot to be scientists and became campaigners, as that is the way academia trains people in science these days. Dispassionate facts do not earn good grades or tenure whereas cherry-picking confirmation biased alarmism gets far better press and grants.

wayne said @ October 23, 2013 at 12:33 am

“The rapid loss of ice in the Arctic should be ringing alarm bells for everyone.”
“The rapid re-growth of ice in the Arctic should be ringing alarm bells for everyone.”

Speak for yourself! I’m more worried about Antarctica; it’s a lot closer to Tasmania than the North pole.

Kelvin Vaughan

It’s called asymmetric cooling! Or you could say the cooling is poles apart!

William Astley

Record sea ice in the Antarctic. Rapid sea ice recovery, in the Arctic. The warmist scientists should start looking for a way out. The proxy records shows there is cyclic warming and cooling of both hemispheres and which matches the pattern of warming that was observed in the last 100 years. The past warming and cooling cycles were not caused by CO2 changes. The past cyclic warming and cooling phases of both hemispheres and the entire recent warming period all correlate with changes in C14. C14 changes are caused by changes to the solar heliosphere which in turn are caused by different changes to the solar magnetic cycle. It is interesting that Svensmark has estimated that 75% of the warming in the last 100 years was due to solar magnetic cycle modulation of planetary cloud cover. Svensmark’s assertion that 75% of the warming in the last 100 years was caused by solar magnetic cycle changes is support by Shiva in this peer reviewed paper.
http://www.eike-klima-energie.eu/uploads/media/Shaviv.pdf “On climate response to changes in the cosmic ray flux and radiative budget”
The past cyclic warming phases were all followed by a cooling phase. The past cooling phases correlate with Maunder like minimums and record cloud forming cosmic ray flux. The solar magnetic cycle has abruptly slowed down which has resulted in record high cosmic ray flux which causes cloud forming ions. The past solar magnetic cycle minimums have lasted from 50 to 100 years. http://www.solen.info/solar/images/comparison_recent_cycles.png
http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/davis-and-taylor-wuwt-submission.pdf
Davis and Taylor: “Does the current global warming signal reflect a natural cycle” …We found 342 natural warming events (NWEs) corresponding to this definition, distributed over the past 250,000 years …. …. The 342 NWEs contained in the Vostok ice core record are divided into low-rate warming events (LRWEs; < 0.74oC/century) and high rate warming events (HRWEs; ≥ 0.74oC /century) (Figure). … ….The current global warming signal is therefore the slowest and among the smallest in comparison with all HRWEs in the Vostok record, although the current warming signal could in the coming decades yet reach the level of past HRWEs for some parameters. The figure shows the most recent 16 HRWEs in the Vostok ice core data during the Holocene, interspersed with a number of LRWEs. …. ….We were delighted to see the paper published in Nature magazine online (August 22, 2012 issue) reporting past climate warming events in the Antarctic similar in amplitude and warming rate to the present global warming signal. The paper, entitled "Recent Antarctic Peninsula warming relative to Holocene climate and ice – shelf history" and authored by Robert Mulvaney and colleagues of the British Antarctic Survey ( Nature , 2012, doi:10.1038/nature11391),reports two recent natural warming cycles, one around 1500 AD and another around 400 AD, measured from isotope (deuterium) concentrations in ice cores bored adjacent to recent breaks in the ice shelf in northeast Antarctica. ….
Greenland ice temperature, last 11,000 years determined from ice core analysis, Richard Alley’s paper. William: As this paper shows the Greenland Ice data shows that have been 9 warming and cooling periods in the last 11,000 years.
http://www.climate4you.com/images/GISP2%20TemperatureSince10700%20BP%20with%20CO2%20from%20EPICA%20DomeC.gif

gopal panicker

in the first IPCC report they had a graph showing low arctic sea ice area in the early seventies…this was missing from subsequent reports as it did not fit the alarmist narrative…there are anecdotal reports of low arctic sea ice area in the 1920’s and 1930’s…antarctic sea ice area was lower in the early eighties…all just normal fluctuations.

To the best of my knowledge there has been no decrease in the ice on the continental land mass of Antarctica. To the contrary, every study I have seen recently shows an Antarctic ice mass increasing.

albertalad

You either have “global” ice melting or not at all – you can’t have it both ways. The Arctic ice is recovering and the Antarctic is growing – it says so directly in this article. Where’s the “global” warming if the Antarctic ice is growing? There is no escape from both these statements. They ask “why” because they are claiming “global” warming. The Antarctic is calling them a liar as is the Arctic. Nature speaks – she ain’t following the IPCC scrip, or the MSM scrip, or Obama’s scrip.

albertalad

Typo – should be script each time.

In answer to why the Arctic is not expanding as rapidly as the Antarctica a Dr Johnson in a non-peer writing about the affects of the Med Sea on the warming and cooling of the Earth pointed out the Antarctica is the feeder to the Arctic in terms of colder water.
Thus we must watch the Antarctica to know what will happen to the Arctic via the Atlantic Ocean Conveyor Belt of warm a cold waters
Sincerely
Paul Pierett

Brian H

I guess it was fairly obvious from the text, but you could have warned us up front that the first excerpt was from Der Spiegel!
In all excerpts, the spin is ferocious, making them hard to read over the noise of the BS-Buzzer.

Klaas de Waal

As at the 18th October, extent is still running at 998,000 sq km above normal.
With the Arctic ice running at 728,000sq km below normal, this means that global sea ice is 270,000 sq km above the 1981-2010 norm.

Walt Meier and Mark Serreze. Hmm. It seems to me those two stepped from the plane without a parachute long ago. I’m surprised they haven’t come down to earth yet. However the bigger they are the harder they fall. (Splat.)
Serreze’s way of describing cold as a good thing shows he has no idea where our food comes from. The farmers of South Dakota might beg to differ with his outlook, with as many as 100,000 of their cows killed by the freak blizzard in early October.
I think that blizzard deserves another post, now that we know how huge the loss of cattle was. What strikes me as strange is that the cold air that caused the early snows seemingly developed south of the Pole. It was “home grown” cold, in a manner of speaking. I find it a little unnerving that such cold can develop in early October, without an arctic outbreak providing direct transport from the north. It does not suggest “our planet has a fever” at all.

Stephen Richards

As average Antarctic temperatures have not increased since 1979 either something else must be causing this (Less precipitation? volcanic activity in West Antarctica?) or they are telling porkies
Or there’s been an increase in sunlight sublimation and a decrease in snowfall.

Arctic sea ice extent reached its lowest point this year on September 13, 2013 when sea ice extent dropped to 5.10 million square kilometers (1.97 million square miles).This places 2013 as the sixth lowest ice extent, both for the daily minimum extent and the monthly average.
This statement is incorrect.
This year’s minimum was 5.079 million sq km, and was the highest since 2006, making it the 7th lowest, not 6th.
2009 was the next highest at 5.054.
For some reason, NSIDC seem reluctant to mention that this fact.
http://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/arctic-ice-minimum-highest-since-2006/

George Lawson

Looks as if the Arctic is heading in the same direction.

etudiant

Press release typo:
Sept Antarctic ice average area 10.77 million sq km, peak extent 19.47 million.
Does anyone read these before they go out?

etudiant

Typo; 19.77 million sq km average area. Guess I don’t read comments either 😉

Colin Porter

Walt Meier used to be a valuable and respected contributor to this blog, both in comments and with an occasional blog post. Since he has been designated the official spokesperson on sea ice matters and now has to give the official company line with it’s attendant dichotomy of explanations in respect of North and South polar ice, it seems that he too has sold his soul.

Dodgy Geezer

…But why the sea ice is increasing is a mystery. …
No it’s not a mystery at all. It’s GLOBAL WARMING! Everything unusual that happens in the climate is global warming. That science was settled long ago.
Of course, the precise mechanism is a mystery, for which we require large funds to research the problem. It may be that carbon dioxide has driven lots of steam up into the stratosphere and interfered with the ozone layer, letting all the heat escape through the hole. A few trillion should let us start examining this possibility. But whatever is causing the extra ice, it must be driven by GLOBAL WARMING….

George Lawson

Presumably when they talk about records, they are only talking about ‘since records began in 1979’ In which case, they should always stste this when talking records. I’m sure the ‘records’ are of little significants in the longer time scale.

Leon0112

Interesting press release. Many numbers, but no mention of 2012 Arctic minimum number or the difference between the 2012 and 2013 numbers. I wonder why.

Bill Illis

I think Walt Meier just took a new position at Nasa Goddard Space Flight Centre (Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory) and this release was probably Walt’s last task at the NSIDC.
Walt Meier has been a very positive influence for this website, answering questions many times and even submitting some articles. I’m also assuming he has been working behind the scenes to improve processes for the release of data from the NSIDC which has improved by an order of magnitude in the last few years. Thanks Walt.

SteveW

“…Southern Hemisphere winter maximum extent of 19.47 million square kilometers (7.52 million square miles) on September 22. The September 2013 monthly average was also a record high, at 19.77 million square kilometers (7.63 million square miles)…”
Is this some kind of new death spiral where the average is higher than the maximum?
Weird science…

Bill Illis

Regarding the record Antarctic sea ice area, there are only three possible explanations for the increase:
– the ocean surface temperature has fallen [simple enough and I think we can chalk this up as 100% true since that is what the data shows – air temps, however were well-below normal from May to July this year but have gone up in the last few months so probably more of an ocean temp influence than an air/troposphere one];
– the ocean has developed less salinity as more fresh water (precip, or ice-melt) has entered the ocean surface and less salty water freezes at higher temperature [100% wrong, the ocean around Antarctica is more than salty enough to keep the ocean-freeze temperature at -1.9C to -2.0C; it would need to decline by quite a bit to raise the ocean-freeze temperature; precip data shows there is no change or even a slight decline in precip in the Antarctic sea ice area – ice-melt in Antarctic winter? come on];
– weather synoptics has spread the ice around and out, allowing more open water to freeze and the extent to expand [potentially true and this is a very important process in the Arctic basin for example – but we need to see better evidence for this and not just hand-waving – it needs to have changed from its normal very stormy, very windy conditions to something even stronger].

el gordo

It might have something to do with the thermal bipolar seesaw and AMO, but I haven’t had a close look.

Katherine

What a pathetic press release. Antarctic sea ice sets a record high and it’s mentioned only in the last two paragraphs of a nine-paragraph press release?! It isn’t even mentioned in the lead!? What scaremongers! Their bias couldn’t be more obvious.

Katherine

“A relatively cool and stormy summer helped slow ice loss compared to the last few summers,” said NSIDC scientist Julienne Stroeve. In contrast to 2012, when sea ice reached a new record low in the satellite record, cooler conditions in the Arctic this summer helped to retain more sea ice.
Right. “Relatively cool” my ass. Wasn’t below average all summer? No mention of the storm that broke up Arctic ice and sped up ice loss in 2012, either. Stroeve drank the Kool-Aid or her snout is deep in the global warming trough.

Tim

“The tiny gain in Antarctica’s ice is an interesting puzzle for scientists,” said NSIDC lead scientist Ted Scambos. “The rapid loss of ice in the Arctic should be ringing alarm bells for everyone.”
Isn’t this the purest manifestation of confirmation bias you have ever read?

Jon

I think for the moment the total result of the circulation systems on Earth ventilates more energy to the Arctic than to the Antarctic?

Crispin in Waterloo

Melting ice absorbs CO2, freezing water expels it – deal with it.