Another Antarctic sea ice record set – but excuses abound

There’s an information war on the recent Antarctic sea ice records

Guest essay by Frank Lansner

Today Cryosphere reports 2,112 million km2 more sea ice around Antarctica than normal.

Fig 1

Reality is that we right now have an area matching the size of Greenland of extra sea ice floating around Antarctica. The nightmare for the global warming believers is if the growing ice around Antarctica should be linked to cooling, and so:

1) Some Re-analysis papers and more have been made showing that the ocean around Antarctica is not cooling (as original data suggests) but is in stead warming fast.

2) Several mechanisms have been suggested to argue how come ice can grow so much faster when in fact the water is supposed to have warmed up.

Therefore in the following I will first (part 1) go through some data sources to evaluate if it’s cooling or not in the area of ice-formation around Antarctica, and then (part 2) I will go through the most frequent attempts to explain faster ice formation in supposedly warmer waters.


Fig 2

The red box: I have inserted the red box 73S-63S 220W-50E because this area will be used in the following to evaluate the situation in the ice forming waters around Antarctica.

NOAA use a base period approx. 1983-1995 and they report that the waters around Antarctica today are colder than normal. In fact this is the case most of the time in the last decade in NOAAs graphics, especially in the zone where extra winter ice is being formed.

Fig 3

CMC Canada use base period 1995-2009, but still we see temperatures of the ice forming waters near Antarctica are lower than normal.



Fig 4

I use the KNMI online climate explorer to get data from the “red box” area 73S-63S 220W-50E, see fig 2.


Fig 5

Fine agreement with NSDC.

TAO buoys surface air temperature:

[figure 6 was in error, and the error originated at KNMI, as you can see below and also in comments (h/t to Bob Tisdale for his interaction with KNMI to get to the root of the problem):


Bob Tisdale writes in email to me:

The problem was that Frank uncovered a problem with the KNMI Climate Explorer when he tried (and was successful) to extract what he thought was “TAO Air Temp” data for the Southern Ocean, from a dataset that only includes data for the tropical Pacific.

The data in Frank’s Figure 6 wasn’t data for the Southern Ocean, it was tropical Pacific data. That was the glitch at KNMI. I notified KNMI.  They corrected the problem and we can only get data from that dataset at KNMI when the correct tropical Pacific coordinates are used…thus the error message you just got.

We hope to add a corrected graph from KNMI  soon – Anthony]

Fig 6

Again, Cooling.

The SST´s and to some degree surface air suggest a drop in temperatures especially around 2008

TLT, Air temperature lower troposphere from RSS:

Fig 7

Data suggest some cooling, certainly not warming.

Thus it seems that recent years for the area of ice formation around Antarctica show:

A: Decrease in Sea surface temperatures

B: Decrease in Air temperatures

C: Growth in Sea ice

These observations are in compliance, I´d say generally in science you can hardly demand more solid evidence to support any conclusion.

* * * It’s getting colder around Antarctica and so the ice is growing * * *


None the less alarmist sites like “Skeptical science” in stead seem to disregard the above conventional data sources and use exclusively projects that somehow ends up showing warming around Antarctica.

Fig 8

Left: Zhangs Re-analysis ending in 2004. Right: NASA´s Earth Obs, ending in 2007.

Zhang achieves a stunning 4-5 K/century warm trend around Antarctica, and NASA perhaps a little less. Notice the “Horse shoe” shape on Zhangs illustration, left. This is the area that I have used for all graphs above. Right: NASA is using infared measurement of the very surface meaning that their data represents the extremely thin top layer ( 1 mm ? ) of the land or ocean surface. The so called “skin layer”.

Such an extremely thin skin layer is much more vulnarable to changes in precipitation or winds than any of the more conventional datasets I have shown in this writing, and the skin layer represents much less mass. More wind in an area of below freezing air temperature is likely to yield warmer skin layer due to mix with warmer water. Here are some attempts to explain matters as I have seen them in debates and on alarmist sites like “Skeptical Science”.

“More precipitation”

Since rain is ice- enemy number one, we will have to assume that this increased precipitation comes as (cold) snow?

In the Antarctic winter air temperatures are low. Snow landing on sea ice will opbviously insulate the ice from cold air temperatures. So how come more snow (precipitation) should increase sea ice areas?

The addition of fresh water should lower salinity and increase the freezing temperature of the water and thus create more ice. But can precipitation really change salinity notably in the deep ocean hundreds or thousands kilometers from the shore?


The thing is, I don’t see many actual graphs of the salinity that is supposed to be decreasing fast in order to increase freezing temperatures notably.

If Salinity is really the key argument in explaining more ice growth combined with more heat, then why don’t we see several climate institutions focus on Salinity graphs?

Fig 9

From the KNMI online service it is actually possible to retrieve a salinity graph, “EN3”.

SSS = Sea Surface Salinity

The freezing point of water increase approx. 0,7 K per 1% fall in salinity.

From the Salinity data we learn that:

1) Variation is small: From 3,385 % to 3,399 %, that is 0,014 mass % over the years.

Not too surprising since we are in the middle of the deep ocean. Varitaion corresponds to a 0,01 K change in freezing point.

2) To explain MORE ice formation over the years we needed to see LESS salinity.

Problem is, the waters around Antarctica show increased salinity.

In other words:

Variations in salinity are TOO SMALL to even be considered in the first place.

And on top of this, waters are actually getting slightly more salty, thus lowering the freeze point a tiny bit. This would explain a tiny reduction in ice formation, not the opposite.

“The Ozone concentraion has declined”

Ozone concentrations has stagnated since the early 1990´ies.

But in recent years something changed.


Fig 10

Since 2011 the ozone concentration has increased fast. The extra ice formations are sometimes explained with the drop in ozone concentration, but in recent years the development has reversed.

So in order to maintain ozone as an explanation for more ice around Antarctica you will have to claim that this effect of Ozone works whenever ozone concentrations make any change at all.

“The winds did it”

The supposed role of ozone is to trigger winds and the winds are supposed to be much stronger now when the ice area is growing faster.

So the explanation goes that even though we have a strong warming, and thus supposedly warmer waters around the Antarctic, then winds blow out ice from the Antarctic main land so that this ice will end up in waters that are quite warm.  And then this ice is not melting fast as one might expect?   I’m not sure if I got that explanation right…

Anyway if this was true we would see that and the ice was pushed out into warmer waters, and there would be no ice formation near the edge of the ice. In fact there should be at least some melting.

Fig 11

The illustration from NRL show actual temperatures and the question is: Are huge ice masses pushed out from the mainland Antarctica to be surrounded by warmer waters?

This color is zero degrees Celsius, so the ice is today clearly surrounded by waters well below zero degrees.

So at least at first glance the suggestion that ice is not formed on the edge but in stead being pushed out from land to warmer waters appears not supported, but what really we need is an investiagation that actually proofs or disproofs this idea and show a well supported estimate of how much ice is being formed this way.


The conventional data sources like SST, MAT suggest that the bulk of the ocean surface mass is cooling in recent years accompanied by faster ice growth. Arguments based on Ozone or Salinity or precipitation appears not to be linked to the record levels of sea ice formation around Antarctica.

It is therefore fair to say the obvious:

* * * It’s getting colder around Antarctica and so the ice is growing * * *


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I am developing my plans to kayak to the North Pole this September. If all goes well, I may plan to kayak to the South Pole when all of that polar ice cap is gone, as well.


* * * It’s getting colder around Antarctica and so the ice is growing * * *
I’m sorry, but that makes way too much sense and does not address whether the algorithm is working as designed.

It looks like I get to repeat it first: “But it’s rotten ice.”


* * * It’s getting colder around Antarctica and so the ice is growing * * *
Where’s the model to back this up?

“Since 2011 the ozone concentration has increased fast.”
Less active sun?
If ozone increases above the tropopause it will warm the lower stratosphere, push tropopause height down and force the climate zones equatorward leading to more meridional jets and middle latitude cooling.
And increasing Antarctic sea ice as the outward flowing cold winds reduce surface temperatures.

The Antarctic anomaly is presently at -3.45 here:
UAH, version 5.6 came out yesterday, although nothing shows on WFT yet. It was interesting, but not unexpected for me that UAH went down from 0.327 to 0.303. However RSS went up from 0.286 to 0.345.
Please correct me if I am wrong about the reason. It is my understanding that RSS only goes to 70 degrees south, whereas UAH goes to 85 degrees south.
According to the above link, it has been brutally cold in the Antarctic lately.
I believe this brutally cold has been captured by UAH but not by RSS. Does this make sense?

Lucius von Steinkaninchen

* * * It’s getting colder around Antarctica and so the ice is growing * * *
In a world of some fields of Science degenerated enough to forget Occam’s Razor, it is so refreshing to see a simple model tying up cause and effect…

Bob Diaz

It appears that reality does not agree with the computer models.
How could reality be so wrong??? ;-))

Ben Howison

Looks kinda like a hockey stick, doesn’t it?

Shawn from High River

When these pesky facts get in the way of the prevailing theory,they just modify the theory to suit the facts

Joe Public

Typo alert:
“Today Cryosphere reports 2,112 million km2 more sea ice around Antarctica than normal.”
That should be (according to the accompanying graph), a full stop / period, not a comma.

Michael D

Clearly Frank has not tried hard enough to figure out why expanding Southern Ice is a validation of anthropogenic global warming.


I thought it was because the ice is sliding off of the land?…………….. 🙂
…good post Frank

Neil Jordan

And it looks like I get to repeat it second: “It was the wrong kind of snow.”

Brian R

TheLastDemocrat says:
July 2, 2014 at 11:08 am
I am developing my plans to kayak to the North Pole this September. If all goes well, I may plan to kayak to the South Pole when all of that polar ice cap is gone, as well.
I guess dragging a kayak over the ice could be considered kayaking.


It is all so logical, it is astounding that no one can catch onto a very simple principle.
At the north pole, when sea ice trends to diminish, that means it is a sign of global warming.
However, at the south pole, on the opposite side of the earth, sea ice is increasing. But since this is on the opposite end of the earth, increasing sea ice means that is a sign of global warming.
These are opposite poles you see, so the exact opposite trend means the same thing. It is all global warming!
Sheesh! (/sarc)

Just doesn’t fit the narrative, does it…

Joe Public

“There’s an information war on the recent Antarctic sea ice records”
There sure is.
The impartial BBC, famed for its unbiased Science/Environment reporting, launched its pre-emptive propaganda a fortnight ago:-

‘Weedy thing’ thrives as Antarctic shores warm”
“Climate change is helping an inconspicuous sea moss animal spread rapidly in Antarctica, say scientists.
The warmer temperatures have helped Fenestrulina rugula to thrive at the expense of other species.
The sea is freezing less so more icebergs are battering the shores of the peninsula, smashing the creatures that live there.

The land temperatures British Antarctic Survey from Mawson or Dumont d’Urville show no warming and even a slight cooling trend as I showed in the Emperor Penguin study


Ice ages are a consequence of global warming – its obvious (thats what they told me at Sks).


* * * It’s getting colder around Antarctica and so the ice is growing * * *
Gosh, that’s a bit embarrassing. The blindingly obvious….can’t have that!


Latitude says:
July 2, 2014 at 11:32 am
I see that “fact” thrown out all the time. I always point out that places like Vostok never get above the freezing point of water any time during the year (which is the case for the vast majority of the Antarctic continent), so how is ice supposed to melt? I’m told I have my facts wrong. Somehow. Facts are most of the time useless when trying to penetrate the mantle of belief so many people have pulled around themselves. To be honest, I no longer try. I just point out the facts and move on. Arguing with a true believer is like arguing religion. Pointless.


Oh come on … It’s so obvious. North Pole is at the top, South Pole is at the bottom … Ice is slippery… It slides downwards.

Data Soong

>> It’s getting colder around Antarctica and so the ice is growing * * *
> Where’s the model to back this up?
Reanalysis data is model data, tweaked by observations. Where there is very little observational data, such as around Antarctica, the model output overwhelms any of the actual observations.
Great analysis, by the way!


Another problem with the growing ice is that as we move from winter the earth gets closer to the sun with the southern hemisphere towards the sun reflecting more sunlight.
2 million km^2 can reflect a lot of W/m^2.


Can anyone say Hockey Stick curve?


Joe Public says:
July 2, 2014 at 11:30 am
Typo alert:
“Today Cryosphere reports 2,112 million km2 more sea ice around Antarctica than normal.”
That should be (according to the accompanying graph), a full stop / period, not a comma.

The comma is a continental European usage and in the context is the same as a decimal point as used in the US. I think SI specifies the “full stop” as used in the US, but many countries don’t follow that standard, any more than we use the metric system of measures commonly – i.e. for science and medicine but not much for personal or business. Remember, NASA managed to accidentally crash an “orbiter” into Mars because of an SI/SAE conversion hick-up.


phlogiston says:
July 2, 2014 at 12:09 pm
Ice ages are a consequence of global warming – its obvious (thats what they told me at Sks).

Then what are they worried about?


The well-known and linked phenomenoa of the bipolar seesaw and (inter hemisphere) heat piracy shouldn’t be forgotten when looking for explanations of Antarctic cooling.
Much of the NH warming over the last few decades, like the world’s economic growth over the same period, is not real, but borrowed.
It may be payback time. All that heat pirated from SH to NH may have to be returned – and then some.
At least Trenberth’s problem of the missing heat is solved. It’s the Antarctic that all that heat has gone missing from.
BTW if Antarctic ice growth has already engaged positive feedback through albedo, what will stop it?

Thanks Frank Lansner, Great Post.

Joe Public

@ Duster says: July 2, 2014 at 12:28 pm
“The comma is a continental European usage…..”
Via WikiP:- “The 10th resolution of CGPM in 2003 declared that “the symbol for the decimal marker shall be either the point on the line or the comma on the line.” In practice, the decimal point is used in English-speaking countries and most of Asia, and the comma in most of Latin America and in continental European languages.”
However the graph used to illustrate the point (no pun intended) uses the decimal point. This is an American site; written in English.
To avoid opportunities for misunderstanding – when in Rome etc.

Rob Ricket

“The addition of fresh water should lower salinity and increase the freezing temperature of the water and thus create more ice.”
Should this not read “decrease the freezing temperature? If so, there is also a problem with a sentence under the next header. A reduction in salinity lowers (decreases) the freeze point.

Green Sand

NOAA Reynolds sea surface temperature anomalies (rel to 1971-200) around Antarctica ( -73S to -63S, -180 to180) for the last decade:-×600&title=&dir=
It’s cool down there and has been for most of the last decade.

* * * It’s getting colder around Antarctica and so the ice is growing * * *

Difficult to deny the data and the subsequent logic.

Nothing to see here. ‘our algorithm is working as designed’

Hot under the collar

So, colder oceans produce more sea ice?
who knew?
Obviously not Sks. Perhaps if you sent them some stick men diagrams with “Mr Freeze” freezing some water they may get it. As a learning incentive we could offer them some stars for their “star chart” if they understand. : )


Isn’t total antarctic volume/m3 more important as an indicator than ice area?? Or at least as important, when looking at antarctic ice shouldn’t area and volume be looked at together to get a coherent picture?
By the way, thanks for explaining the difference between sea ice extent and and area. I would love to see more of these types of 101 explanations for those of us trying to following the science;

Aaron Smith

The science of half truths sums up a lot of what you see published in literature nowadays regarding the climate. There will almost always be experimental variables left out of the study. But the half truths seem to bring about a higher impact these days…. so why not report them as such? Basically, what I’m saying is…. the waters/surface surrounding Antarctica may be warming at an alarming rate (one half)…. at an approximately 1 millimeter slice of the waters/surface surrounding Antarctica. Lots of folks get caught up in the title and introductions…. and conclusions of these “science” papers. The only thing that has always interested me… and the only thing that should interest you…. is the methods section. but who really wants to read that? especially when we have this agenda to support?

Peter Whale

That hockey stick will be useful playing on all that Ice

Bob Jarrett

Ben Howison says:
“Looks kinda like a hockey stick, doesn’t it?”
I’ll second that!

JJM Gommers

Is this a first signal that it becomes colder? The increase of the last 3 years is impressive.

Note: This increase occurred even after NOAA changed the baseline period from 20 to 30 years. Since the Antarctic ice has been increasing for the last 30 years, the change decreased the anomaly by 150,000 to 200,000 km2. With no data manipulation the value would be 2.312 M km2.
Not to belabor the concept: Could it be the Sun? To make this easy lets call 1960 Solar Cycle [19] -> 100% and use the area [Summation of value times month] under UV measurements [or Sunspots measurements].
Peak Year
~1960 [19] -> 100%
~1970 [20] -> 50%
~1980 [21] -> 75%
~1990 [22] -> 75%
~2001 [23] -> 50%
~2012 [24] -> 30%
Antarctica has no land to protect it! The Arctic is essentially surrounded by land.

Mike from Carson Valley a particularly cold place that could benefit from some warming

I am guessing this is a byproduct of mother of all teleconnections, As the North hemisphere loses ice at the pole some instantaneous property of the h2o molecule causes its linked molecule in the Southern hemisphere to freeze. Doesn’t seem to matter if the first molecule melts or sublimates the teleconnection shifts the ice from pole to pole. Probably a byproduct of subatomic matter.Seems relatively obvious. At some point the teeter totter should reverse. /SARC
In the desert where I live, we have time at the extremes of cold and hot to contemplate things like this. By the way, teleconnections are talked about by people with straight faces when they are discussing hurricanes and tropical cyclones, so some think these connections actually exist.


There is a “theory” of ice cream ball.
When it melts, it spreads around.
They mean, Antarctics is the “ice cream ball”.
The record ice spread is an omen of melting Antarctics.

M Courtney

Or it could be getting less saline around the Antarctic and so the ice is growing.
I know of no microbe that eats sodium and chloride and so locks up the salinity… but it must exist (else warming is not happening) so please fund my research project to go find it.


on the Zhangs Re-analysis and NASA´s Earth Obs charts: how in the 7 hells to they have a resolution of 1/100th a degree C? if they had a more believable number, like 0.5 C, the only color they would show is white (for no change).
they also avoid mentioning that none of those minuscule changes will get the temps above freezing


l thinking that the warming in the NH has reached its peak.
A clue to this is the lack of warming at the peak of summer in the high Arctic.
All the warming that has taken place up there has been during the winter half of the year. There seems to be something going on over the Arctic that is keeping a lid on the temperature during the summer peak.
Am wondering if there is a link between this and the increase in “night shining cloud” that has happened over the last few years. The increase in this type of cloud suggests that the high atmosphere over the Arctic circle is getting colder during the summer.
Now is it possible that this cooling of the high atmosphere is in some way also stopping the Arctic from getting any warmer during its summer peak.?


I’m not try to piss of Leif so I apologize ahead…. close your eye sir 🙂
hm….. not try to re-ignite the ‘Sun did it…’ war…… but, the TSI start decreasing around 2003-2005 by a small amount…. and the Fig 4 indicate very nicely that tiny amount of temp drop
Watts Up With That ??

The article points out that since 2011 ozone has risen fast. Note that mid 2011 was the last ‘normal’ low point in tha last 3 years. The trend has been steadily upwards since then. That period of 3 years is a completely unique pattern on the 34 year graph.


The satellites have it wrong. It’s really just pond scum on top of the boiling seas.

Frank Lansner, in your Figure 6, for a discussion of Southern Ocean marine air temperatures, you presented data from the KNMI Climate Explorer for the TAO project buoys. Are you aware that the TAO project data from KNMI only covers the tropical/equatorial Pacific? Read the header at the top of the “TAO air temp” “Field” webpage. They list the coordinates of the data there. They run from 8S-9N, and from 137E-85W. That’s the equatorial Pacific, not the Southern Ocean.
The KNMI Climate Explorer should not have presented any data for the coordinates you entered, so I’ll notify KNMI. Please correct your post.
BTW, that’s as far as I got with your post.