North and South Poles: Important Climate Differences

Guest opinion: Dr. Tim Ball

A favorite exam question in my first-year climate class was, “Why is the North Pole warmer than the South Pole? I changed it each year, to confuse students who looked at last year’s exam; “Why is the South Pole colder than the North Pole?” Most people have no idea about the geography of the Poles and assume they are climatically the same. They are literally polar opposites and that is important in understanding the significance for global climate.

The major driving force for atmospheric circulation is the temperature difference between the Poles and the Equator – the gradient. Theoretically, maximum heating at the Equator and minimum at the Poles creates a single cell circulation system (Figure 1).

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Figure 1

Rotation is the major perturbation to this theoretical base, followed by surface differences, particularly land/water ratios.

Earth’s elliptical orbit round the Sun is a small factor in determining the temperature difference. Two important points are perihelion, when the earth is closest, and aphelion when it is furthest away. (Figure 2)

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Figure 2

The current situation is as follows.

The Earth is closest to the Sun or at its Perihelion two weeks after the December solstice and farthest from the Sun or Aphelion, two weeks after the June Solstice. In 2015, the Earth will reach its Aphelion at 19:41 (7:41 pm) UTC on July 6, 2015.

All this changes as part of the larger Milankovitch Effect, but it means that at present the Earth is closer during the Northern Hemisphere winter and further away during the Southern Hemisphere Winter.

At the risk of stirring up solar specialists, here is one estimate of the insolation difference.

     Aphelion Insolation = [(149,597,870.7 km) / (152,098,232 km)] = 0.9674

     Perihelion Insolation = [(149,597,870.7 km) / (147,098,290 km)] = 1.0343

 

It’s approximately a 6.5 percent variance, which is a minor difference but one amplified by other factors.

North Pole

 

Figure 3 shows that the North Pole is near the middle of the Arctic Ocean (approx. 16 million km2) almost totally surrounded by land that all lies within the Arctic Circle. It is essentially a flat plain at sea level.

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Figure 3

The Arctic Ocean sits in an almost enclosed basin with only one deep channel in and out called the East Greenland Rift (Figure 4). (Soviet submarines used the channel during the Cold War). This means most water moving in or out of the Arctic Ocean is in the upper few hundred meters of the ocean. The Continental Shelf is vast and drops off to the deep ocean at 200 fathoms, instead of 100 fathoms like most others. The result is very large areas of relatively shallow water, visible as the light blue area in Figure 3 and the turquoise in Figure 4.

The essentially enclosed condition was a major part of the Ewing and Donn 1956 theory of the causes of Ice Ages. It led to alarmist headlines similar to those we see today, except it was The Coming Ice Age. (Is the author Betty Friedan of feminist fame?).

How a rising of the ocean waters may flood most of our port cities within the foreseeable future — and why it will be followed by the growth of a vast glacier which may eventually cover much of Europe and North America.

Albedo is high all year round because of the low angle of incidence. Reflected sunlight makes snow blindness a danger among people of the Arctic. They fashion snow goggles to combat the problem.

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Note the very narrow slit.

Albedo changes significantly in the summer when some 10 million km2 of sea ice melts exposing low albedo, dark green, polar water.

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Figure 4

This means that the influence of massive quantities of warm water on ice conditions are much more important. The other factor is the impact of the Polar Easterlies driving the sea ice in a constant rotation round the Pole. On Arctic survival with the Canadian Air Force, I learned that the winds were so consistent that the Inuit used the direction of snowdrifts for guides even under “white out” conditions.

Ice thickness was made an issue to add to the focus on sea ice melting. I wrote about the exploitation and misrepresentation of this in October 2012. Influx of warmer water is a major factor, as occurred in 1816. Another reason the North Pole is warmer than the South because of heat from this warm water moving through the ice to heat the atmosphere (Figure 5).

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Figure 5.

Source: Climatology (Oliver and Hidore)

The biggest problem for climate research in the Arctic is the lack of data. Figure 6 shows that there is no data for most of the basin.

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Figure 6

Source: Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA).

Polynyas are large areas of open water and a unique feature in the Arctic Oceans that contribute heat directly to the Arctic atmosphere. Figure 7 shows Polynyas for the Canadian sector of the Ocean.

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Figure 7

The net result is the North Pole is cold, but nowhere near as cold as the South Pole. That is all we can say precisely because actual conditions at the geographic North Pole are not measured. Wikipedia says,

Winter (January) temperatures at the North Pole can range from about −43 °C (−45 °F) to −26 °C (−15 °F), perhaps averaging around −34 °C (−29 °F). Summer temperatures (June, July, and August) average around the freezing point (0 °C (32 °F)). The highest temperature yet recorded is 5 °C (41 °F),

 

Temperature is important because it determines the density of the atmosphere and, therefore, the height of the Troposphere, which affects the circulation.

South Pole

 

Little was known about the Antarctic continent until approximately 100 years ago, which is not surprising since the first confirmed landing occurred in 1895. Despite this, scientific interest triggered organization of an International Polar Year (IPY) in 1882-1883. The major advance in knowledge was the International Geophysical Year (IGY) in 1957, while scientific efforts to assess Antarctic climate began as recently as the third IPY in 2007.

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Figure 8

The geography is directly opposite to the North with a continent surrounded by ocean (Figure 8). The entire area is above sea level with the South Pole at 2830 m (9,285 feet). The Tropopause is less than 8 km above Antarctica, so there is very limited atmosphere above the South Pole. The intensely cold air that drains down off the continent enhances the general circulation pattern of the Polar Easterlies. Known as a Katabatic flow, it generates remarkable winds. British Antarctic Survey reports

Port Martin (67°S 141°E) is an especially windy site with an annual mean wind speed of 17 ms-1 (33 kt — nearly gale force). The station has recorded a monthly mean wind speed of 28 ms-1 (54 kt — storm force 10) and a daily mean of 46 ms-1 (89 kt).

The Southern Ocean surrounds the continent and creates a dramatic contrast with the cold polar air. All these conditions combine to create a very powerful Circumpolar Vortex. Failure to understand or include these conditions was part of the misunderstanding and incorrect claim that CFCs were creating and enlarging the area of ozone thinning over Antarctica.

Figure 9 shows Polynyas (dark green) for the Antarctic for a specific day. They are defined as areas of thin ice or open water. Like the Arctic they are quite extensive. WUWT illustrated how Antarctic polynyas are primarily a result of katabatic winds. This was in response to a claim that they were going to disappear.

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Figure 9

Sun angles are the same as in the Arctic, but the albedo is much higher because of the permanent snow and ice surfaces.

Net result of these differences means the North Pole is much warmer than the South. It is probably more accurate to say it is less cold. We only have an approximate difference because there are no instrumental readings for the North Pole. There are so few measures that application of the claim that a station represents everything in a 1200 km radius do not apply. Wikipedia says winter temperatures (January) range from -43°C to -26°C. South Pole records show winter temperature (July) range is from a mean daily minimum of -62.8°C to a mean daily high of -55.9°C. Regardless of specific accuracy, the difference is approximately 20°C difference, which is very significant in the fundamental driving force of atmospheric circulation.

Historically, this difference was amplified because a higher global mean temperature, such as during the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), had greater impact at the North Pole than the South. A 2°C change would have limited impact at the South Pole. It would have much greater impact at the North Pole altering conditions of the Arctic Basin including the sea ice, the snow line, the tree line, the albedo, and ocean circulation, among other conditions.

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168 thoughts on “North and South Poles: Important Climate Differences

  1. Nit picking a bit:
    At the risk of stirring up solar specialists, here is one estimate of the insolation difference.
    You forgot the square the numbers, but the results on the right-hand side are correct anyway.

    • ((h+epsilon)/h)²= (1+epsilon/h)² = 1+2epsilon/h+epsilon² ≈ (h+2epsilon)/h
      So here multiplying by two and squaring both work for the purpose.
      Add two somewhere…

      • Who spots my typo 🙂
        [Ask not for whom the typo’s, for it may typo for you. .mod]
        [In that equation? I ain’t changing nuttin’ till you says so. .mod]

      • Conclusion, since the solar radiation is a sphere which loses power on the order of the square of the distance. The distance difference may be only 6.5% more but the solar energy difference is up to 11.83% less energy (or the south pole gets 13.5% more) when basically comparing the southern parihelion to the northern apihelion.

      • And that’s [wrong] too.
        Try (h^2 + 2epsilon) / h^2
        Much better good. Sorry mods. and Bart.
        [No problem. We write the rongs that make the hole world wring. .mod]

      • OK. Now we are back to rev 6 on the original equation. Somebody gonna write her properly in one line?
        But remember! This blog ain’t peer-reviewed! Nah. Not all peer-reviewed and checked. /sarchasm

    • And I would enjoy seeing some actual numbers instead of “much higher” or lower albedo.
      Water albedo starts to increase rapidly beyond the Brewster angle which is 53 degrees off the zenith, so it isn’t necessarily so that open water albedos are very low.
      BUT at large sun angles (from zenith) also imply larger that 1.0 air mass, so higher atmospheric absorption and Raleigh scattering of short wavelength solar energy (the higher photon energies.)
      And snow albedos aren’t that high either specially in daylight where snow surface melting and refreezing can occur. That opens up the ice to transmission followed by TIR trapping inside the ice.
      Fresh snow a few days old (72 hours) may not have any higher albedo than green grass.

      • george e. smith (speaking to lsvalgaard)

        And I would enjoy seeing some actual numbers instead of “much higher” or lower albedo.
        Water albedo starts to increase rapidly beyond the Brewster angle which is 53 degrees off the zenith, so it isn’t necessarily so that open water albedos are very low.
        BUT at large sun angles (from zenith) also imply larger that 1.0 air mass, so higher atmospheric absorption and Raleigh scattering of short wavelength solar energy (the higher photon energies.)
        And snow albedos aren’t that high either specially in daylight where snow surface melting and refreezing can occur. That opens up the ice to transmission followed by TIR trapping inside the ice.
        Fresh snow a few days old (72 hours) may not have any higher albedo than green grass.

        Following is from a different thread, but it is valid for open ocean albedo at low solar elevation angles.
        1. Do not, under any circumstances, use the Fresnel equations. Nor their approximations using in-series or crossed light waves. There is better, real-world data available using real-world things like waves, the sun, and open ocean water.
        2. For diffuse radiation, the albedo is the “standard” “everybody knows it” value of 0.066 for all solar elevation angles. If the solar radiation is diffused through clouds, use this albedo. ONLY.
        But first, reduce the remaining solar radiation as for direct radiation on a clear day because the atmosphere still attenuates the energy received at top-of-atmosphere.
        Then, reduce the amount of radiation by 70% because the clouds reflect sunlight off of the top of the clouds back into space.
        Then, if storms (high winds for example) reduce the radiation by the energy lost in the clouds themselves. Usually, the final radiation is 10% of the top-of-atmosphere values or less.
        3. For direct radiation, clear skies.
        Calculate the earth’s declination angle, the day angle mu_day, and the hour angle to get the solar elevation angle.
        Calculate the air mass for that solar elevation angle, and assign (or select) an appropriate atmospheric clarity value.
        You might be given a solar elevation angle directly. Regardless, you will have a solar elevation angle.
        (If you have a solar zenith angle, SZA = 90-SEA )
        Define mu = sin (SEA) = cos (SZA)
        Define w = wind speed (meters/sec)
        Albedo = [ 0.026/ (mu^1.7 + (-0.0002*w^2 + 0.0076*w + 0.0266) ]+ [ 0.15 *( mu – 0.1) * (mu – 0.5) * (mu – 1) ]
        Thus, you get the following table.
        Note that over 30 degrees SEA (60 degrees SZA) you end up back at Wikipedia’s default 0.066 “standard” albedo.
        This is why the default Wikipedia albedo is “adequate” for equatorial latitudes going as far as 45 – 50 degrees, and for midday albedo at certain times of the year in the Arctic summer.

        		Wind=0	Wind=3	Wind=9	Wind=12	(All winds)
        		0	3	9	12
        		Direct	Direct	Direct	Direct	Diffuse
        SEA    Sin(SEA)	Albedo	Albedo	Albedo	Albedo	Albedo
        3	0.052	0.779	0.476	0.301	0.269	0.066
        5	0.087	0.613	0.409	0.274	0.247	0.066
        7	0.122	0.478	0.345	0.245	0.223	0.066
        9	0.156	0.378	0.290	0.216	0.200	0.066
        11	0.191	0.304	0.245	0.191	0.178	0.066
        13	0.225	0.250	0.209	0.169	0.159	0.066
        15	0.259	0.209	0.180	0.149	0.141	0.066
        20	0.342	0.142	0.128	0.112	0.108	0.066
        30	0.500	0.078	0.073	0.067	0.066	0.066
        40	0.643	0.048	0.046	0.043	0.042	0.066
        

        More on sea ice albedo, snow-on-top-of-sea-ice albedo, summer sea ice albedo’s, and the differences between Arctic and Antarctic sea ice albedo’s in a bit.

  2. A 2°C change would have limited impact at the South Pole. It would have much greater impact at the North Pole altering conditions of the Arctic Basin including the sea ice, the snow line, the tree line, the albedo, and ocean circulation, among other conditions.
    Then what is causing the rapid growth of Antarctic ice?

    • The growth in Antarctic sea ice may in part be attributable to a strengthening and poleward shift in the southern hemisphere westerly winds, which themselves are linked to ozone declines in the stratosphere, in addition to a response linked to CO2. There is a useful summary of the present state of knowledge on the topic at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2014/12/

      • Bevan, fancy quoting realclimate. Those who post on that blog have no qualifications, experience or understanding of thermodynamics, heat&mass transfer or fluid dynamics which are engineering subjects. Think, how can they explain something when they do not understand the fundamentals?
        Good post Dr Tim Ball.

      • Or maybe there has been a significant cooling of the Southern ocean. I’m a bit suspicious of the “global warming explains everything” theorists – especially considering recent measurements indicate the Antarctic sea ice is a lot thicker than expected, which pours cold water on the idea that it is a thin accumulation driven by wind interacting with glacial melt.
        http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/11/24/surprise-robot-sub-finds-much-thicker-than-expected-antarctic-sea-ice/

      • Yes, I have heard that excuse many times.
        Yes, I agree the pundits say it, but they have NEVER provided any evidence of the change!
        Thus, they “claim” higher winds are blowing off of the continental ice cap due to a “warmer global temperature”, but there is no data showing any wind changes. The winds have ALWAYS blown down off of the icecap in three general areas, and today – they still blow down off of the icecap in those same three areas. What is the difference since 1992 when the Antarctic sea ice began its 23 yer long steady increase?
        The Antarctic air temperature is steadily going down. Not down fast, but it IS going down. Why is this measured decrease in air temperature not slowing the winds, if indeed the warmer air between the south pole and the equator is supposedly causing the winds to increase? The winds circle the continent the same way they have since the clipper ships and Magellan tried to force his way through past the peninsula. the dominant winds above the sea ice round the continent are the same as they have been in years past. Three discharge points, the rest not blowing AWAY from the land but parallel to it. Just like they always have done.
        Further challenging this “argument”: The Antarctic sea ice increase is major, and very large. 30% above average at minimum extents (when the sea ice is close to the coasts) and the same anomaly (or higher) when the sea ice edge is 1000 kilometers from the coast at maximum. The winds are not responsible for the increase. Math shows that. The geometry of the increase in sea ice is continent-surrounding: if winds were responsible, there would be regions where the sea ice is blown out, and regions were the effect were less. That doesn’t happen. A uniform steady season-by-season increase in sea ice regardless of distance from the coast or air temperature by season cannot be explained by “continental winds” increasing.
        Worse, the actual “global warming” is 1/2 of one degree since 1950. Show me the math. What change in wind speed is calculated for a actual global average temperature change between 1992 and 2015 of less than 1/10 of one degree?
        If the effect were due to land ice melting, you need to show me the pre-increase (before 1992) salinity levels, the post-1992 salinity levels – since sea ice has been steadily increasing the whole time – and then show me exactly where the fresh water is coming from. there is not enough land ice melting to dilute 14.0 million sq kilometers of sea ice to a depth of 50 meters to change the freezing point of seawater enough to freeze 2,06 million square kilometers of “excess” sea ice 800 kilometers from the land. Is 70 gigaton of land ice melting significant? Show me that a 1/1000 change in salinity is possible.
        Oh wait. That “melting” happened when the land temperature was averaging -30 degrees. I think you have to explain the melting in the first place. Then calculate the salinity change.

      • @RACook
        “The McGill researchers, working with colleagues from the University of Pennsylvania, analyzed tens of thousands of measurements made by ships and robotic floats in the ocean around Antarctica over a 60-year period. Their study, published in Nature Climate Change, shows that the ocean’s surface has been steadily getting less salty since the 1950s.”
        http://ecowatch.com/2014/03/03/climate-change-effects-ocean-salinity-traps-heat/
        “Oh wait. That “melting” happened when the land temperature was averaging -30 degrees. I think you have to explain the melting in the first place. Then calculate the salinity change.”
        By sublimation. Also, I understand the decreasing Antarctic glaciers is mostly by calving to Amundsen sea. None of this proves it is man-made.

      • “Is 70 gigaton of land ice melting significant? Show me that a 1/1000 change in salinity is possible.”
        70 gigatons of melt water spread over 14 million sq. km. is only 5 mm per year. I think precipitation would have greater impact on salinity. Annual precipitation in coastal areas of Antarctica is 500 to 1,000 mm.

      • I hear warm air is causing melting and sea ice to grow. What warm air?

        Abstract July 2011
        Qi Shu et. al
        Abstract
        Sea ice trends in the Antarctic and their relationship to surface air temperature during 1979–2009
        Surface air temperature (SAT) from four reanalysis/analysis datasets are analyzed and compared with the observed SAT from 11 stations in the Antarctic. It is found that the SAT variation from Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) is the best to represent the observed SAT. Then we use the sea ice concentration (SIC) data from satellite measurements, the SAT data from the GISS dataset and station observations to examine the trends and variations of sea ice and SAT in the Antarctic during 1979–2009. The Antarctic sea ice extent (SIE) shows an increased trend during 1979–2009, with a trend rate of 1.36 ± 0.43% per decade. Ensemble empirical mode decomposition analysis shows that the rate of the increased trend has been accelerating in the past decade. Antarctic SIE trend depends on the season, with the maximum increase occurring in autumn. If the relationship between SIC and GISS SAT trends is examined regionally, Antarctic SIC trends agree well with the local SAT trends in the most Antarctic regions. That is, Antarctic SIC and SAT show an inverse relationship: a cooling (warming) SAT trend is associated with an upward (downward) SIC trend. It is also concluded that the relationship between sea ice and SAT trends in the Antarctic should be examined regionally rather than integrally.
        http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/phod/docs/Shu_etal_2012.pdf
        http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00382-011-1143-9

      • @Dr. Strangelove,

        70 gigatons of melt water spread over 14 million sq. km. is only 5 mm per year.

        I’m confused. According to actual physical water/ice conversion measurements, it takes ~362 gigatons (approx. 95 cubic miles) of melt water to raise the global oceans 1 mm.
        http://sealevel.info/conversion_factors.html (There are other conversion pages that create the same result.)
        How did you get 5 mm?

      • 5 mm is not sea level rise. It’s the amount of fresh water that mixes with seawater. Imagine 1 meter depth of seawater mixed with 5 mm of fresh water. Over longer period, it will mix at greater depth and larger area.

  3. Release more energy in one hemisphere over time, and it creates change. What we do not know, is how that works.

    • There are cameras/thermometers planted up there every spring, but they dont stay at the Pole, they drift away and sink into the Fram Strait in a year or less. The same applies to manned stations, like e. g. Papanin’s in 1937-38. There has never been an extended temperature series from the North Pole, and quite possibly never will be.

    • The north pole is covered in moving ice, the camera might of started out over the pole but if it ever returns it is just a coincidence.

      • In addition to the idea of tethering thermometers (if possible) how about Argo style floating units with thermometers and positioning data sending information to a land based station periodically? These floating units can be release periodically to replenish those washed out. Just asking.

      • It would get squished by the changing sea ice, the ridges and melt ponds, and the open water that sunk it one day, then – whoops! – it blew shut last night – then – whoops! a 30 m/sec wind just blew newly-frozen ice all over it!

    • There is no camera at the North Pole, at least not for very long. Ice circulation would move any camera placed at the North Pole hundreds of miles from it’s starting point (which I believe is NOT at the North Pole) during the course of a year.

      • Why not have the camera on a mobile that uses GPS to keep wandering itself to stay at the north pole ??
        just asking.
        g

        • george e. smith

          Why not have the camera on a mobile that uses GPS to keep wandering itself to stay at the north pole ??

          Last few north pole camera’s have been nose-bumped by a polar bear, fell over, fell in a melt pond, and “turned off” for unknown reasons.
          Seems like it would be easier to drive a robot lander with 6 wheels on Mars than up near the north pole. (No bears on Mars.)

  4. Why do people keep saying this?

    It’s approximately a 6.5 percent variance, which is a minor difference but one amplified by other factors.

    That difference is 90 watts/m2. That is hardly trivial.

    • DennisWingo

      It’s approximately a 6.5 percent variance, which is a minor difference but one amplified by other factors.

      That difference is 90 watts/m2. That is hardly trivial.

      But it is worse than you think! The annual maximum of solar radiation occurs January 5 at 1410 watts/m^2. That is slightly before the yearly minimum for Antarctic sea ice (late February) so there is still a significant amount of southern sea ice present, and, ALL of that sea ice is at lower latitudes (much closer to the equator) than the northern sea ice – which is still dark all day long up north at 75, 76, 77, and 78 north latitude. So, when the solar radiation is at its maximum, the receding Arctic sea ice is “invisible” (below the horizon) but the ever-expanding Antarctic sea ice is fully exposed all 24 hours of the day and night.
      Worse, the Antarctic sea ice is at lower latitudes, the result means more sunshine for longer periods of time at higher solar elevation angles; which means much less atmospheric attenuation each hour the sun does shine! Higher solar elevation angles unto seawater mean sea water albedo reduces, so the effect of an increase in Antarctic sea ice means much more energy is reflected immediately back into space from the increased area.
      Further, while the north sea ice is also exposed to solar radiation for 24 hours per day in May, June, and July – the MINIMUM solar radiation of 1315 watts/M2 is shining then! And, that period of May, June, and July is the period of lowest measured Arctic sea ice albedo.

    • True, but the reality is that it does not explain anything. The 100/400kyr eccentricity signals are completely absent until the mid Pleistocene transition where some sort of built up 100kyr resonance emerges from nowhere. The explanatory power of this resonance has been refuted by Richard Muller in one of his better works. There seems to be no 400kyr signal in the Pleistocene at all, and if memory serves this one is a bit more than 90 watts.

      • It is obvious that if you look far enough back all of these signals are absent. With the closure of the Panama strait a few million years ago, along with the continuing uplift of the Himalayas and Sierra Nevada/Sierra Madre in the Americas, global circulation patterns in both the oceans and the atmosphere have occurred.
        This is why I was suggesting in another thread that we have to look with more granularity at altitude base insolation, which is 150-200 watts/m2 higher than at sea level. Take a look at our current circulation patterns this winter. If that circulation pattern persisted for a hundred or a thousand years non stop, you might start seeing the beginning of a new ice age.

    • People claim this or that is only trivial and then dismiss it, but the warmist’s position rests upon ‘missing’ trivial amounts of energy.
      If one adds up all the trivial this and thats, they may well start to becomr significant.

        • jmorpuss
          Well, more accutaely, ALL ENERGY ever produced (except that within the satellites beyond earth orbit) results in heat: Transportation fuel = As wind motion, brake friction, air heated by the engine and radiator. Power plants? Cooling water (out of power plants), electricity (all eventually heat), electrical resistance losses, or stack losses directly of the hot exhaust gasses and their chemical enthalpy. Concrete? Shipping, HVAC, building trades and supplies? Paper, wood, trash dumps, people’s food? Garbage, sewage treatment …. All eventually heat i one way or another.
          There is never any loss of chemical or nuclear power that does not eventually become heat.

      • “There is never any loss of chemical or nuclear power that does not eventually become heat.”
        ..
        Except for the chemical or nuclear power that is used to energize high powered radio transmission. Some of the electromagnetic energy emanated from the broadcast antenna penetrates the ionosphere and radiates out into space.

      • RACookPE1978 Nice distraction ,I’m talking about electromagnetic absorption by water .
        “Microwaves and radio waves[edit]
        See also: Radio window
        Dielectric permittivity and dielectric loss of water between 0°C and 100°C, the arrows showing the effect of increasing temperature.[23]
        The pure rotation spectrum of water vapor extends into the microwave region.
        Liquid water has a broad absorption spectrum in the microwave region, which has been explained in terms of changes in the hydrogen bond network giving rise to a broad, featureless, microwave spectrum.[24] The absorption (equivalent to dielectric loss) is used in microwave ovens to heat food that contains water molecules. A frequency of 2.45 GHz, wavelength 122 mm, is commonly used.
        Radiocommunication at GHz frequencies is very difficult in fresh waters and even more so in salt waters”
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_absorption_by_water

      • @RACookPE
        From reading the paper on Lamb over at Bishop Hill – I understand that there were concerns over a century ago about the release of energy to atmosphere by mankind and its potential to alter climate.
        Your comments here about energy release made me wonder how much the heat energy release to atmosphere figures anywhere in climate scientists thinking ? It doesn’t seem to so far as the IPCC is concerned, nor within the NGO green activists
        There was an article here a couple of years ago “Waste Heat – a bigger climate effect than once thought” ( http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/01/27/waste-heat-a-bigger-climate-effect-than-once-thought/ )
        Wind and solar which are requiring massive increases to the electrical distribution grids bring a consequential heat-energy release due to resistance over much larger distances than traditional generation. That must result in a (very?) significant increase in heat-energy release to atmosphere and I wonder if anyone has calculated that ?

  5. A few points, a few disagreements about subtleties within those points.

    “Albedo changes significantly in the summer when some 10 million km2 of sea ice melts exposing low albedo, dark green, polar water.”

    We’ll address this in much greater detail in Sea Ice 101 – Reflections on Albedos. It will be a later article here.
    But a few things are important. You approached the issue, but didn’t go into enough detail.
    Antarctica is 14.0 Mkm^2 of land area, 97% covered by permanent land ice as its icecap. It is surrounded by 1.5 Mkm^2 of permanent shelf ice. (This 1.5 Mkm^2 is not included in the “sea ice” numbers issued daily by NSIDC and others, including Cryosphere at the Univ. of Illinois. ) Thus, the Antarctic sea ice area cycles between recent lows of 2.5 Mkm^2 up to an average maximum of 15.0 Mkm^2, but all recent years have been well above 16.0 Mkm^2 and routininely up past 16.5 to 17.0 Mkm^2 the past 2 years. The lows used to be 1.5 to 2.0 Mkm^2, and the highs only 15.0 Mkm^2.
    So the recent Antarctic sea ice gains are very large, and cannot be explained by the usual excuses of “wind” and “land ice melt”. We’ll cover both of those separately.
    Net? The Antarctic sea ice oscillates between 68 south latitude (at minimum) up to 59 south latitude (at maximum). This is simple math: 14.0 (land) + 1.5 (shelf ice) + 2.5 (minimum extents) = 18.0 Mkm^2 at minimum. A total at maximum of 14.0 Mkm^2 (land) + 1.5 Mkm^2 (shelf ice) + 17.0 Mkm^2 sea ice = almost 34 Mkm^2 of reflective surface around the south pole!
    The north pole? Compare the Antarctic’s 18.0 Mkm^2 ice area (at minimum!) to the Arctic maximum sea ice area of only 14.0 Mkm^2. Further, the Antarctic at minimum is greater than the Arctic at maximum, but the arctic at minimum is only 3.0 Mkm^2 at its recent record low minimum in mid-September. At the same time, the Antarctic reaches its maximum.
    So, at the 2012 record low point, all of the arctic sea ice would fit between the north pole and 80 north latitude. At noon in September, at its highest point, the sun is only 10 degrees above the horizon. THAT latitude difference means significantly different open water albedo at all hours of the day (when exposed), fewer hours of sunlight (when it is exposed in September minimum point and the March maximum point.)
    Yes, the Arctic receives more solar energy May, June, and July than the Antarctic. But the other 9 months of theyear?
    The Antarctic receives more solar energy, reflects more solar energy, and receives as much as 5 times more in September than the Arctic receives. In March, when the Arctic is at its maximum, and the Antarctic sea ice is recovering from its annual low point in late February? Both receive the same amount; the edges of both sea ice areas are about at the same latitude.

  6. The major driving force for atmospheric circulation is the temperature difference between the Poles and the Equator

    Whoops! No go Dr. Ball. That’s what Travesty Trenberth tried in his 2010 paper.
    Sure if it were not for the Earth’s rotational speed, there would be only two giant Hadley cells, 1 north, 1 south of the equator. The Earth’s rotational speed breaks circulation into three distinct rolling cells, the Hadley, Ferrel and Polar.
    Here’s the unmissable clue that equator to pole temperature differential is not the “major” driving force of circulation in these three cells – the Ferrel cell rolls in reverse!
    So what’s the primary driving force in these cells? Equator to pole won’t work, Ferrel runs in reverse and way, way too much ground friction. Further the idea that a colder surface can have a significant effect on the atmosphere above defies physics for an atmosphere in a gravity field. The simplest experiments show the surface is an order of magnitude better at heating the atmosphere than it is at cooling it –
    http://i57.tinypic.com/24qsrrn.jpg
    (that experiment is called “the AGW gravity Gremlin” because A- climastrologists forgot gravity when they claimed the ability of the surface to conductively heat or cool the atmosphere was equal, and B- because Dr. Robert Brown infamously accused me of invoking Maxwells Demon when I dare present empirical results).
    Energy, like water likes to “flow downhill”. Which is shorter? Equator to pole or surface to space? Say hello to the established meteorology the warmulonians are desperate to erase from history, Radiative Subsidence –
    http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~dib2/climate/tropics.html

    ”Air convected to the top of the troposphere in the ITCZ has a very high potential temperature, due to latent heat release during ascent in hot towers. Air spreading out at higher levels also tends to have low relative humidity, because of moisture losses by precipitation. As this dry upper air drifts polewards, its potential temperature gradually falls due to longwave radiative losses to space (this is a diabatic process, involving exchanges of energy between the air mass and its environment). Decreasing potential temperature leads to an increase in density, upsetting the hydrostatic balance and initiating subsidence. The subsiding air warms (as pressure increases towards lower levels), further lowering the relative humidity and maintaining clear-sky conditions. However, although the subsiding air warms, it does not do so at the dry adiabatic lapse rate. Continuing losses of longwave radiation (radiative cooling) means that the air warms at less than the dry adiabatic lapse rate (i.e. some of the adiabatic warming is offset by diabatic cooling).”

    Imagine no radiative gases. No radiative subsidence and strong vertical tropospheric convective circulation would stall, then the atmosphere would overheat, with its bulk temperature driven by surface Tmax.
    This is why climastrologists paramatise energy flow in the vertical in their GCMs. They invoke “immaculate convection”. Wouldn’t it be a shame if the public found out that tropospheric convective circulation would just speed up for increased radiative gas concentration, transporting even more energy away from the solar heated surface of our planet?

    • Here’s the unmissable clue that equator to pole temperature differential is not the “major” driving force of circulation in these three cells – the Ferrel cell rolls in reverse!

      Are you saying that the Ferrel cell moves heat from the poles toward the equator?

      • I think ocean currents like the gulf stream put the atmospheric circulation to shame as a “heat” (noun) transporter (it’s called convection).

  7. You only briefly touch on the altitude at the South Pole but do nothing to explain its significance. 2800m difference in altitude equals a massive difference in pressure and thus temperature at any any Latitude. I would argue that it is the MOST important factor in the Arctic being warmer than the Antarctic.

    • I agree with this point. Wiki quotes a lapse rate of 6.4 C per kilometer as typical. If the South Pole’s lapse rate is typical then that figures out to around 18 C difference just because of altitude difference. I often wonder if in all the adjusting of temp data of meteorological stations whether altitude or pressure is taken into consideration.

  8. “This means most water moving in or out of the Arctic Ocean is in the upper few hundred meters of the ocean. The Continental Shelf is vast and drops off to the deep ocean at 200 fathoms, instead of 100 fathoms like most others. The result is very large areas of relatively shallow water, visible as the light blue area in Figure 3 and the turquoise in Figure 4.”,
    Did I read that wrong ? On figure 3 (4?) the Arctic ocean shelf appears to be shallower than the rest of the Continental shelves and drops of slower, the fathoms # seem to be reversed in the paragraph.

  9. Current insolation at the silly critical 65N is the same as insolation in the coldest part of the last glacial cycle.
    Elevation (ice sheet above sea level) and the fact that there is a continent rather than an ocean at the South pole explains why the ice sheet is 1000s of feet above sea level in the South pole and why the South pole is roughly 25C colder than the North pole.
    Climate data for the American Amundsen-Scott station at the South Pole – Continental High Plateau
    Data range from 1957 to 1988; Latitude: 90°S; Longitude: 0
    Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
    Average daily temperature °C
    – 28.2 – 40.9 – 54 – 57.3 – 57 – 58 – 59.7 – 60 – 59.4 – 51.1 – 38.3 – 27.5 – 49.4
    Mean daily max °C
    – 25.9 – 38.1 – 50.3 – 54.2 – 53.9 – 54.4 – 55.9 – 55.6 – 55.1 – 48.4 – 36.9 – 26.5 – 45.4
    Mean daily min °C
    – 29.4 – 42.7 – 57 – 61.2 – 61.7 – 61.2 – 62.8 – 62.5 – 62.4 – 53.8 – 40.4 – 29.3 – 49.3
    http://cdn.antarcticglaciers.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/cross_section_combined.ai_.jpg
    South Pole temperature by month – (South pole has cooled slightly post 1988)
    P.S. Sea ice in the Antarctic is at a record due to the unexplained cooling of the Southern sea.
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seaice.anomaly.antarctic.png

  10. The concept of glacial melt water contributing to Antarctic sea ice is about as unscientific as you can get. The glacial melt water is fresh water land ice with a freezing point of 0°C. The sea ice, due to the salt content of sea water, freezes at -1.96°C. If glacial melt water were in sufficient quantity its effect would be to melt the sea ice, not cause it.
    Second point is that once the sea surface has a skin of ice on it all further freezing occurs underneath the ice. the ice thickens quickly when the surface ice is clean as this aids radiation of heat from the sea water through the ice. Snow cover on sea ice reduces this radiation and slows ice thickening.
    Therefore to get increased thickness and extent of Antarctic sea ice requires the ocean to be cooling, something that the Argo buoys raw data shows. But the climate cowboys refuse to recognise.
    Dr James Renwick, a NZ climate “scientist” has just been given a huge grant to investigate why the Antarctic sea ice is increasing. He blames southerly winds before he even starts his research. I suspect however, that it will be a case of what explanation his computer models can come up with rather than an honest project of observing what actually happens.

  11. Sea ice in the Antarctic is at a record due to the unexplained cooling of the Southern sea. Note the earth has cooled each and every time the solar magnetic cycle has slowed down. The solar magnetic cycle is slowing down and is now starting to show multiple anomalies.
    For those who are interested in watching the onset of global cooling this is the graph to watch. The South sea is cooling due to the interruption to the solar magnetic cycle. Note the Northern solar polar large scale magnetic field is flat lining. It appears the solar magnetic field cycle 24/25 transition will be the weakest on ‘record’. The magnitude of the solar large scale magnetic field is predictor of the number of sunspots in the next cycle.
    http://www.solen.info/solar/polarfields/polar.html
    http://www.solen.info/solar/images/comparison_recent_cycles.png
    http://www.ospo.noaa.gov/data/sst/anomaly/2015/anomnight.2.12.2015.gif

  12. Dr Tim Ball is an excellent source of good sense in what he posts. I read and learn from most of his posts. My comment is a minor nitpick about this sentence in his current post:
    “Polynyas are large areas of open water and a unique feature in the Arctic Oceans that contribute heat
    directly to the Arctic atmosphere.”
    Polynyas are a feature of the Antarctic Oceans as well as the Arctic Oceans [Wiki]. Thus they are not unique to the Arctic Oceans as stated. (I suspect this is a proof reading problem or some such.)
    Jim Hutcho

    • It may jiust be an oversight. Tim Ball did mention Polynyas in the Antarctic.

      Figure 9 shows Polynyas (dark green) for the Antarctic for a specific day. They are defined as areas of thin ice or open water. Like the Arctic they are quite extensive. WUWT illustrated how Antarctic polynyas are primarily a result of katabatic winds. This was in response to a claim that they were going to disappear.

      On a related note, does anyone know if the following were Polynyas.
      1960s Nimbus Satellite observations.

      ….In the Arctic, sea ice extent was larger in the 1960s than it is these days, on average. “It was colder, so we expected that,” Gallaher said. What the researchers didn’t expect were “enormous holes” in the sea ice, currently under investigation. “We can’t explain them yet,” Gallaher said…..
      “And the Antarctic blew us away,” he said. In 1964, sea ice extent in the Antarctic was the largest ever recorded, according to Nimbus image analysis. Two years later, there was a record low for sea ice in the Antarctic, and in 1969 Nimbus imagery, sea ice appears to have reached its maximum extent earliest on record….
      http://cires.colorado.edu/news/press/2014/nimbus.html

      More details from the paper’s abstract

      Abstract
      Anomalous Variability in Antarctic Sea Ice Extents During the 1960s With the Use of Nimbus Data
      The Nimbus I, II, and III satellites provide a new opportunity for climate studies in the 1960s. The rescue of the visible and infrared imager data resulted in the utilization of the early Nimbus data to determine sea ice extent. A qualitative analysis of the early NASA Nimbus missions has revealed Antarctic sea ice extents that are significant larger and smaller than the historic 1979-2012 passive microwave record. The September 1964 ice mean area is 19.7 × 106 km2± 0.3 × 106 km2. This is more the 250,000 km2 greater than the 19.44 × 106 km2 seen in the new 2012 historic maximum. However, in August 1966 the maximum sea ice extent fell to 15.9 × 106 km2 ± 0.3 × 106 km2. This is more than 1.5 × 106 km2 below the passive microwave record of 17.5 × 10 6 km2 set in September of 1986. This variation between 1964 and 1966 represents a change of maximum sea ice of over 3 × 106 km2 in just two years. These inter-annual variations while large, are small when compared to the Antarctic seasonal cycle.
      http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/articleDetails.jsp?arnumber=6547200

      .

  13. Thank you Dr Tim Ball. I would love a pdf of all this info (if I only knew how).
    Some layman rambling; I note peak Arctic ice is some 14,000 km^2. IF the Arctic ice was not there we would have sea water radiating at about -1C. Compare that to ice at -25C. That ice seems to be providing a thermal barrier, lot of energy would be lost otherwise. Then there is reduced albedo as the sun clears the horizon. My guess is Arctic ice disappearing is a vanishingly small possibility.

    • Use Chrome as your browser on thoe occasions you want to keep a copy of a good article. It can print a pdf of almost any webpage. Just change the “printer”.

  14. Excellent article.
    I would like to add following: There is a chain of active (atmospheric) volcanoes just outside Arctic circle (Iceland and Aleutian peninsula with Kamchatka further south) with relatively frequent eruptions. It can be postulated that the volcanic ash eventually deposited on the ice and snow of the Arctic may have an effect on albedo, rate of melting etc. In contrast the Antarctica has only one active atmospheric volcano (Mt Erebus) erupting relatively infrequently.
    I am also of the view (regularly and possibly justifiably disputed) that intensity, medium term variability and the distribution of the Earth’s magnetic field in polar areas (Arctic-bifurcation, Antarctic- regular oval) has an important effect on formation and importantly stability of the polar vortex.

    • “In contrast the Antarctica has only one active atmospheric volcano (Mt Erebus) erupting relatively infrequently”
      Not correct. There are several active volcanoes off the Antarctic Peninsula, e. g. Deception Island in the South Orkneys (last eruption in 1970) and almost all of the South Sandwich Islands. The Balleny Islands off Victoria land in East Antarctica erupted in the 19th Century.

      • One or two eruptions 30-40 years ago in the Antarctic’s area, were and are of no consequence for accessing current global warming factors of the Antarctica.
        In contrast the Arctic’s surrounding regions have regular eruptions, sometime several volcanoes are erupting within a year, some going for weeks even months; the effect on the Arctic temperatures is likely to be measurable.
        Surely you are not equating effects of two?

    • Further, there was a recent article suggesting that undersea volcanos beneath Antarctica may explain, in part, the melting of the West Antarctic ice shelf; ie., natural and not due to global warming.

      • Role of undersea volcanic eruptions in both Arctic and Antarctic is mostly underestimated. It appears that currently the Arctic is in a relatively ‘calm’ phase, while there is some evidence that the ‘crescendo’ of eruptions may have been reached towards the end of the ice ages, and so creating conditions for rapid rise of the interglacials.
        http://images.intellicast.com/App_Images/Article/194_1.jpg
        It is my view that onset of rise in the Milancovic cycles initiates powerful bursts of the Arctic’s submarine eruptions.

    • Vukcevic,
      According to these articles:
      http://www.canada.com/topics/news/world/story.html?id=81bb2fd3-63f1-476f-b0be-f48c0dc90304
      And: http://iceagenow.info/2015/02/arctic-seafloor-afire-lava-spewing-volcanoes/
      This is new for me and very stunning.
      If the arctic seabed’s magmatic activity is so intense, one may wonder how much heat is released in the sea water and if this could help in a good part of the recent arctic ice sheet melting which was so eagerly attributed to the AGW by the IPCC.
      Anyways the IPCC certainly didn’t heed of the magmatic heating in their computer’s programs.
      This may be compared to the quick melting of some antarctic glaciers which was later proven to be caused by a subglaciar volcanic activity.

      • Jack & jmor, thanks for the links.
        Currently Euro-Asian and American plates are separating at rate of about 2 cm/ annum. Geological records (recently become available) show that the rate is not uniform. During last million or so years there were short burst of spreading, most likely triggered by Milankovic cycles, but only under certain easily understood conditions, resulting in a chain of simultaneous submarine magma eruptions. I think that ice ages, both glaciation and deglaciation spread out from the Arctic Ocean outwards.

      • vukcevic And thank you for the recognition
        Here’s something I see about the pacific rim of fire . If you shoot a ball bearing with a slingshot at a window , do you see that it is a small hole from your side but on the other side the hole is bigger and the size difference depends on the thickness of the glass (miss spent youth ) so I see the pacific rim as a major impact zone . and maybe the impact that brought water and life as we know it to mother Earth ???????

      • What would happen if a ice giant hit Venus.??? And if you hit a iron bar hard enough you can create a magnetic field, Its my belief that this process happened to Earth and aloud Earth to hold onto a atmosphere on the night side, To create a electric field just introduce a magnetic field is how it goes isn’t it??

  15. Yet another fine post by Dr. Ball. Thanks Tim!
    The main takeaway that I get from this post is that there are large differences between the two poles and we have almost no data about those two areas even in the 21st century. Now since they told me that “global warming” was to raise the temperatures at the poles first — how can we talk about global warming with no data?
    If the poles are as large a heat sink as we think they are, why are we worried about warming?

  16. Great Post, thank you!
    I thought you might be interested (though you might not) to know my guess as to why the layman erroneously thinks that the Poles are equally cold, or in some ways that the North Pole is perceived to be colder. Most of what most people have read on the Poles over the last hundred years is from Expedition Reports. Because it’s quite hard to walk on water, North Pole Expeditions historically occured in Spring (April to May/June), and nowadays, given less ice, in late Winter/early Spring (late February/early March to Mid/late April). Because humans aren’t stupid (even those of us stupid enough to go on Polar Expeditions!) South Pole Expeditions also occur at the warmest feasible time of the year, but because it’s on land, and you don’t tend to fall through land and get wet (ok, you do fall through the crevasses sometimes…), that means they’re in December/January, ie Southern Summer. So all that we’ve heard for a century until perhaps the last decade was influenced by the timing of Expeditions. And I can tell you that walking on the Arctic Ocean in early March at -50 in near darkness with sometimes humid air from open leads feels a lot colder than walking on the Antarctic at -25 in dry 24h sunlight…..

  17. ‘A favorite exam question in my first-year climate class was, “Why is the North Pole warmer than the South Pole? I changed it each year, to confuse students who looked at last year’s exam; “Why is the South Pole colder than the North Pole?”’
    And it is really depressing to think that this cunning ploy probably worked.

  18. “….South Pole. The intensely cold air that drains down off the continent enhances the general circulation pattern of the Polar Easterlies.”
    I guess this should be Westerlies concerning the South Pole?

  19. As it warmed, sea ice declined from the 1950s –‘80s in Antarctica, before it began cooling again in the 1980s—in opposite phase to the Arctic.
    —–
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014GL059821/abstract
    We present the first proxy record of sea-ice area (SIA) in the Ross Sea, Antarctica, from a 130 year coastal ice-core record. High-resolution deuterium excess data show prevailing stable SIA from the 1880s until the 1950s, a 2–5% reduction from the mid-1950s to the early-1990s, and a 5% increase after 1993. Additional support for this reconstruction is derived from ice-core methanesulphonic acid concentrations and whaling records. While SIA has continued to decline around much of the West Antarctic coastline since the 1950s, concurrent with increasing air and ocean temperatures, the underlying trend is masked in the Ross Sea by a switch to positive SIA anomalies since the early-1990s. This increase is associated with a strengthening of southerly winds and the enhanced northward advection of sea ice.
    —–
    http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/staff/cdeser/docs/fan.antarctic_seaice_trends.grl14.pdf
    This study compares the distribution of surface climate trends over the Southern Ocean in austral summer between 1979–2011 and 1950–1978, using a wide variety of data sets including uninterpolated gridded marine archives, land station data, reanalysis, and satellite products. Apart from the Antarctic Peninsula and adjacent regions, sea surface temperatures and surface air temperatures decreased during 1979–2011, consistent with the expansion of Antarctic sea ice. In contrast, the Southern Ocean and coastal Antarctica warmed during 1950–1978. Sea level pressure (SLP) and zonal wind trends provide additional evidence for a sign reversal between the two periods, with cooling (warming) accompanied by stronger (weaker) westerlies and lower (higher) SLP at polar latitudes in the early (late) period. Such physically consistent trends across a range of independently measured parameters provide robust evidence for multidecadal climate variability over the Southern Ocean and place the recent Antarctic sea ice trends into a broader context. ….. For the Southern Ocean as a whole, sea surface temperature has decreased by approximately 0.6°C in December-February (0.4°C in the annual mean) while Antarctic sea ice cover has increased by approximately 9% in December-February (12% in the annual mean) during 1979-2011.
    —–
    http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg2/index.php?idp=599
    Another analysis of a 21-station data set from Antarctica by Comiso (1999) found a warming trend equivalent to 1.25°C per century for a 45-year record beginning in the 1950s but a slight cooling trend from 1979 to 1998. The slight cooling trend for this later 20-year period also was confirmed via analysis of surface temperatures over the whole continent, as inferred from satellite data.
    —–
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v457/n7233/edsumm/e090226-02.html
    Theoretical models and observational data have long suggested that the Northern and Southern Hemisphere climates behave in a seesaw-like fashion: when the northern ocean warms, the southern ocean cools and vice versa. So far, however, the data have indicated a much muted response in Antarctic climate compared to the Arctic. An analysis of new records from an ocean core from the South Atlantic — including planktonic foraminifera assemblages, Mg/Ca ratios, temperature and ocean productivity data — shows that the South Atlantic cooled essentially instantaneously with the warming in the North Atlantic during the last deglaciation. This first concrete evidence of an immediate seesaw connection also provides a link between the rapid warming in the North Atlantic and the more gradual Antarctic response, and suggests a mechanism potentially driving rapid Northern Hemisphere deglaciation.
    —–
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v508/n7496/full/nature13076.html
    An interhemispheric hydrologic seesaw—in which latitudinal migrations of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) produce simultaneous wetting (increased precipitation) in one hemisphere and drying in the other—has been discovered in some tropical and subtropical regions. For instance, Chinese and Brazilian subtropical speleothem (cave formations such as stalactites and stalagmites) records show opposite trends in time series of oxygen isotopes (a proxy for precipitation variability) at millennial to orbital timescales, suggesting that hydrologic cycles were antiphased in the northerly versus southerly subtropics. This tropical to subtropical hydrologic phenomenon is likely to be an initial and important climatic response to orbital [solar] forcing. The impacts of such an interhemispheric hydrologic seesaw on higher-latitude regions and the global climate system, however, are unknown. Here we show that the antiphasing seen in the tropical records is also present in both hemispheres of the mid-latitude western Pacific Ocean. Furthermore, our result implies that insolation [solar radiation]-driven ITCZ dynamics may provoke water vapour and vegetation feedbacks in northern mid-latitude regions and could have regulated global climate conditions throughout the late Quaternary ice age cycles.

  20. Kepler’s 2nd Law applies to the speed of earth through its orbit, at perihelion it is at its fastest. What this means is that season will or should be shorter, especially compared to the same season at the opposite pole. I imagine the models take these things into consideration, at least I hope they do.

  21. Thank you Dr. Ball informative as ever. Also Thank all of you for the open discussions that allow us everyday people a glimpse of how our climate really works. I am impressed by how facts are presented and debated here. This `atmosphere` lends to calm and frank exchanges. Well done.

  22. Few people know that annual average absorbed radiation is almost exactly the same for the two hemispheres. This is in spite of the huge difference between their clear sky albedoes, the Southern hemisphere being inherently darker than the Northern one, due to prevalence of oceans there.
    By the way, although at summer solstice the south pole gets more insolation indeed at ToA (Top of Atmosphere), annual averages are equal for the the two hemispheres because of a geometric peculiarity of Keplerian orbits.
    Kepler’s second law says that “a line segment joining a planet and the Sun sweeps out equal areas during equal intervals of time”. Therefore the time needed for the planet to proceed by a small angle Δφ along its orbit (relative to the stars) is proportional to the square of its instantaneous distance from the Sun. As incoming solar flux is inversely proportional to the very same quantity, temporal integral of power flux at ToA is simply proportional to the angle travelled. Angular distance between the two equinoxes is 180°, so summer (or winter) insolation matches exactly at ToA for the two hemispheres.
    That’s astronomy so far. To absorb an equal amount of energy in a year, average all sky albedoes of the two hemispheres should also match. That’s accomplished by clouds, to an astonishing degree. Under clear sky conditions the Southern hemisphere absorbs some 6 W/m² more energy than the Northern one, but once clouds (and snow) come into play, the difference is less than 0.1 W/m².
    This remarkable symmetry is an emergent phenomenon, not replicated by current computational climate models at all.
    To make it even more mysterious, there is no such symmetry in outgoing thermal infrared radiation, the Northern hemisphere’s heat loss to space being considerably higher. That implies an ongoing heat transport from the (colder) Southern hemisphere to the (warmer) Northern one, conceivably by ocean currents.
    Journal of Climate, Volume 26, Issue 2 (January 2013)
    doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00132.1
    The Observed Hemispheric Symmetry in Reflected Shortwave Irradiance
    Aiko Voigt, Bjorn Stevens, Jürgen Bader and Thorsten Mauritsen

    “Climate models generally do not reproduce the observed hemispheric symmetry, which the authors interpret as further evidence that the symmetry is nontrivial.”

    • For the record, I posted a comment about Kepler 23 minutes before you, but my comment is still in moderation. I will try posting a reworded version below in case my original gets lost in the Either.

      • garymount
        Your comment is awaiting moderation.
        February 14, 2015 at 2:58 am
        Kepler’s second law applies to the speed of earth through its orbit, at perihelion it is at its fastest. What this means is that season will or should be shorter, especially compared to the same season at the opposite pole. I imagine the models take these things into consideration, at least I hope they do.

  23. If you took the anomalies of the North and south pole temperatures and if the temperature of the south pole was less cold than it normally was and then measured the anomalies at the north pole as being more cold than it normally is then you could conclude that it was warmer at the south pole than it was at the north pole.anomalies distort our view of reality before we can think about reality.

  24. Take Antarctica and make it 3 times bigger (same position over the south pole).
    Okay, it is now attached to South America and it is closer to Africa. The Ocean currents are different in that the Antarctic Circumpolar Current cannot fully encircle the continent anymore but there is some type of circumpolar current on parts of the continent while the parts attached to South America set-up as Gyres which would bring warmer water in next to the continent at the portions attached to South America.
    Now how big do the glaciers get?
    I think they still cover almost all the land area. There are some non-glaciated regions next to the oceans, something like southern Greenland today, but the glaciers are 2.5 times bigger than they are today.
    The extra Albedo from all that extra glacier will increase the Earth’s Albedo from 29.83% today to 30.70%. This will reduce the average Earth temperature from 15,0C to 14.0C, 1.0C colder.
    That makes northern hemisphere ice ages much more likely as well. It might make northern hemisphere glaciation permanent but it is hard to tell. If it just tipped the balance to make northern hemisphere ice ages permanent, well then we are back to Snowball Earth, but probably not.
    Just noting that the position and size of the continents along with the resulting ocean current alignments along with how much ice results from those impacts will change the overall planet’s Albedo and determine the climate that results.

  25. Arctic Air Assault 15.02.
    http://earth.nullschool.net/#2015/02/15/0300Z/wind/surface/level/overlay=temp/orthographic=-89.84,38.56,2086
    Circulation in North America in the winter does not change much, but clearly decreased solar activity in this cycle. Arctic air descends further to the southeast. Polar vortex is shifted over Europe and does not block cold air over the Bering Strait.
    https://i0.wp.com/www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/strat_a_f/gif_files/gfs_z30_nh_f00.gif

  26. I’m more persuaded by “scientific efforts to assess Antarctic climate began as recently as the third IPY in 2007.“, than I am of any claims or speculation about changes regarding the ice thickening or not thickening.

  27. Tim
    “Albedo is high all year round because of the low angle of incidence.
    Albedo changes significantly in the summer when some 10 million km2 of sea ice melts exposing low albedo, dark green, polar water.”
    These two statements do not gel for me.
    In addition I do not understand the concept of low angle of incidence causing high albedo.
    In my limited understanding the albedo is the amount of light that is reflected and this would have far more to do with the reflecting material [ice, water or land] than which way the light happens to land on the material in question.
    “Sun angles are the same as in the Arctic, but the albedo is much higher because of the permanent snow and ice surfaces.”
    I am sure an Eskimo could get snow blindness just as easily if transported to the South pole or if taken to a ski resort in Japan for a day. It is the reflection of light, not the angle of incidence.
    “Wikipedia says winter temperatures (January) range from -43°C to -26°C.”
    I know you mean the North Pole for these figures but best to add it into text to clear up the meaning of the paragraph.
    South Pole records show winter temperature (July) range is from a mean daily minimum of -62.8°C to a mean daily high of -55.9°C.
    wickedwenchfan said “In fact 20C difference is pretty standard for that kind of difference in altitude from sea level to 2800m!”
    You said the North Pole is essentially a flat plain at sea level. both on the same wavelength I feel.

  28. Good write up. I learned a few basics that I was unaware of. So it goes. Thanks Dr. Ball. Much appreciated.

  29. Berényi Péter February 14, 2015 at 3:21 am Great post with Kepler but I do not understand some of your conclusions.
    You said “, there is no such symmetry in outgoing thermal infrared radiation, the Northern hemisphere’s heat loss to space being considerably higher. That implies an ongoing heat transport from the (colder) Southern hemisphere to the (warmer) Northern one, conceivably by ocean currents.”
    but your reference Journal of Climate, Volume 26, Issue 2 (January 2013) contradicts this in its heading
    “The Observed Hemispheric Symmetry in Reflected Shortwave Irradiance”
    It is also contrary to the concept of black body radiation which implies heat in equals [mainly infra red] heat out.
    If the Northern Hemisphere is indeed putting out a higher amount of infra red to space, the simplest concept would be that it is taking more in to send back out. The simplest way for this to happen would be despite the higher implied NH albedo there are less clouds and the NH in fact has more heat coming in [actual lower albedo].
    Not needing “ongoing heat transport from the (colder) Southern hemisphere to the (warmer) Northern one, conceivably by ocean currents.” which again violates thermodynamics generally in that heat does not move from colder to warmer areas.
    “Few people know that annual average absorbed radiation is almost exactly the same for the two hemispheres”.
    Not surprising once you accept your explanation that in effect they have the same overall albedo.
    Was not aware that although ” at summer solstice the south pole gets more insolation indeed at ToA (Top of Atmosphere), annual averages are equal for the the two hemispheres because of a geometric peculiarity of Keplerian orbits
    Lost on this one, I feel you are choosing a Keplerian orbit of a rotating planet with a fixed plane of inclination. Once it wobbles a bit, which the earth does, and sticks the Southern hemisphere closer to the sun at it’s hottest, which it does, then I am not sure that there will be an equal annual average for the two hemispheres but maybe the astronomers here can help.

    • Read Voigt &. al. 2013 carefully. Based on CERES-EBAF they conclude reflected shortwave radiation is indeed the same for the two hemispheres (see TABLE 1. on page 469). As incident shortwave is also the same, absorbed shortwave radiation should match as well. That means the Northern hemisphere is not “taking more in to send back out”. It can only radiate more thermal infrared out, because there is some 700 TW net heat transport northward across the equator.
      The astronomical part is uncontroversial, it even holds for elongated elliptical orbits with any tilt of the planetary equator relative to the plane of its orbit. I believe it is taken into account in computational climate models, because both the physics and math are simple behind it.
      On the other hand, the inter-hemispheric symmetry of all sky albedo depends on clouds, which are poorly represented in computational climate models, because all the relevant processes driving cloud formation work on scales well below their grid size. That means modelled clouds are driven more by prejudices and guesswork than by physics.
      A word of caution regarding the relation between absorbed shortwave and emitted longwave radiation in CERES-EBAF is appropriate here. Their global difference (a.k.a. planetary imbalance) is not measured by satellites, the end product is adjusted in this respect using ARGO OHC (Ocean Heat Content) measurements.
      That’s because there is a completely unphysical mismatch between satellite measured shortwave input and long wave output on the order of several watts per square meter. It means CERES data may be precise, but they are not accurate enough to estimate the value of imbalance.
      Fortunately we are not interested in difference between incoming and outgoing fluxes here, but we can compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges.
      It would be interesting to repeat their study using CERES-EBAF 2.8 (March 2000 – October 2014). Voigt &. al. only had version 2.6 (March 2000 – February 2010). That is, we have data for 56 more months now, 176 months instead of 120.

      • I find the Voigt 2013 paper fascinating from several perspectives. Their Fig 2. show the 2 subtropical gyres reflect the least SW suggesting those are the centers of greatest heat accumulation. Subtropical gyres underlie the high pressure systems that are drier, with more clear sky. Those heating centers are also more cloud free during La NIna conditions, as well as warm periods like the Medieval Warm Period.
        There is indeed net cross-equatorial heat transport in the Atlantic but not the Pacific. But I doubt that fully explains the greater outgoing infrared in the NH. Most of the cross-equatorial ocean heat is stored below the surface and has minimal effect on surface heat flux (Donahue(2014). Indeed Heimbach and Wunsch show the mid Atlantic stores a tremendous amount of subsurface heat.
        However increased westerlies during a positive NAO help ventilate that heat. Also the transport of heat deep into the Arctic enhances cooling. Warm intruding Atlantic waters are upwelled on to the shallow coastal shelves and vented to the atmosphere though expanded polynya. Indeed the simultaneous cooling of the upper 700 m of Arctic waters and the warming air is consistent with that heat ventilating scenario.
        In contrast water warmed in the SH hemisphere is deflected by the Circumpolar Current and then pumped equator-ward. Polar ventilation is minimal. Growing regional Antarctic sea ice is consistent with cooler sea surface temperatures, and thus less outgoing LW.
        Does Voigt or others have a diagram of the spatial patterns for outgoing LW anomalies to illustrate the regional patterns that drive the outgoing LW asymmetry?

      • B Peter:
        Concerning the discrepancy between incident SW radiation and outgoing LW radiation, as measured, how much of that discrepancy is due to the absorption of SW radiation by photosynthesis, I wonder? I would imagine that photosynthesis would account for much or perhaps all of it.

    • “Not needing “ongoing heat transport from the (colder) Southern hemisphere to the (warmer) Northern one, conceivably by ocean currents.” which again violates thermodynamics generally in that heat does not move from colder to warmer areas.”
      ////////////////////////////
      But you are overlooking that there is a heat pump.
      Is it not the position that Energy absorbed in the Southern Hemisphere oceans rather than warming those oceans and thence being radiated therefrom and thereby contributing towards the radiation emitted from the Southern Hemisphere, is instead carried northwards (both by ocean currents and by air currents) where it goes to warm the Northern Hemisphere more than the Northern hemisphere would otherwise be warmed by such solar energy that finds its way to the surface (ie., making its way through clioudy skies)? This means that some of the energy received in the Southern Hemisphere is radiated not from the Southern Hemisphere but from the Northern Hemisphere, and hence the reason why the Northern Hemisphere radiates more than would otherwise be expected.

      • Correct. Ocean circulation is not a heat engine, it is not driven by temperature or salinity differences, but by pure mechanical energy input provided by tidal breaking and winds.
        Therefore thermohaline circulation is a misnomer, it is valid only for the downwellingbranch. Upwelling, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter. Although it is necessary to close the circuit, dense &. cold bottom water would never rise to the surface on its own, driven by thermodynamic forces, to replace lighter &. warmer water parcels there. So with no low entropy mechanical energy input, the abyss would eventually get saturated with cold &. salty water and at that point the circulation would grind to a halt.
        Heat conductivity of water is very low and diffusivity of salts in seawater is even lower by some 2 orders of magnitude. Therefore these processes are insufficient to resupply buoyancy to the abyss. Geothermal heat flux could keep up some very slow overturning, because in this case heating happens at the bottom, in a gravitational well compared to location of cooling, but it is only powerful enough to drive a circulation several orders of magnitude weaker than what is observed.
        In the strict sense of the word there is not even such a thing as “upwelling”. What happens instead is deep turbulent mixing. That is, less dense surface waters get mixed with cold &. dense deep waters, providing the necessary buoyancy at depth to keep up circulation.
        However, in most of the open ocean even vertical turbulent mixing is measured to be insufficient to do the job. It is only at specific sites, intermittently, that rate of deep turbulent mixing increases by several orders of magnitude, due to breaking of internal waves over rugged bottom features and at continental margins of complex geometry. Internal waves themselves are generated by lunisolar tides and downward transfer of wind energy mediated by surface waves. About 80% of wind forcing occurs over mid latitude Southern oceans (roaring forties, furious fifties) and I believe that’s what makes the difference.
        Perhaps it is not even necessary to mention, that no computational climate model gets deep turbulent mixing right, mostly because it is another sub-grid process.

  30. I see that in the UK the Lib, Lab, Con leaders have made a pact to make legislation to avert Climate Change by for example banning coal fired power stations.
    I have only been reading this blog for a few weeks but it seems clear to me that the man made Global Warming/climate change is more than likely a load of old bollocks put about by pseudo science encouraged by vested interest.
    I can understand a grant-seeking researcher exaggerating the importance of their work but I would have thought that HMGov employed expert advice to advise it of the truth of a matter and I would expect then that a British Politician would act in the best interests of the Country.

    • Unfortunately, human nature is usually governed by self interest. It is hard to think of an example where a politician has acted in the best interests of the country.

      • In general I expect politicians to put their own interests first, their constituents’ interests second, and their nation’s interests third. Sometimes two or all of these interests coincide, but often they don’t. Note that politicians, being fallible humans, also misidentify these interests on occasion.

    • Zemlik – HMGov only employs experts in ‘climate science’, all of whom have vested (financial and reputational) interests in keeping that loob alive. For confirmation just look at the composition of the Committee on Climate Change.

  31. As a student I would use the KISS principle.
    The continent under Antarctica allows for two km of ice buildup. Not so the north pole. The temperature at that height is 20 C colder.
    The rest is over egging.

  32. Thank you Dr. Ball for a clear and understandable discussion on a subject that is inadequately covered. Posts like yours which stay away from sometimes politically charged verbiage also bring out the best in commenters and is a primary reason why WUWT is my go-to source for facts and information.

  33. The difference in temperatures between the two poles well illustrates the principle that oceans have a profound effect on climate, and of course means ocean circulation.
    The land mass of Antarctica assures the thermal isolation of this pole because oceanic influences are kept at vast distances from the geographic pole, while, in the Arctic, waters circulate tropical heat transported there by the Gulf Stream. As Dr. Ball points out, this means a much colder South Pole and explains why so much ice is locked up in that continent (over 90% of the world’s ice).

  34. Excellent post Dr. Ball.
    Just like to add a thought to readers here who may not realize the actual size of Antarctica.
    From Wikipedia:
    Antarctica – 5.4 million square miles
    Europe – 3.3 million square miles
    USA contiguous states – 2.96 million square miles
    Antarctica is much larger than it looks on a world map as well as elevation at its surface.

    • eyesonu

      Just like to add a thought to readers here who may not realize the actual size of Antarctica.
      From Wikipedia:
      Antarctica – 5.4 million square miles
      Europe – 3.3 million square miles
      USA contiguous states – 2.96 million square miles
      Antarctica is much larger than it looks on a world map as well as elevation at its surface.

      For consistency, let’s put those in metric units, then compare them to areas you “see’ on the standard climate scientist’s Mercator projection map. Which cuts off all of Antarctic anyway.

      Region	        Area
      United Kingdom	0.245
      Germany	        0.357
      California	0.423
      Spain	        0.505
      France	        0.551
      Ukraine	        0.603
      Texas	        0.696
      2014 sea ice 	2.060  Just the Antarctic sea ice anomaly!
      Greenland	2.160
      Alaska	        2.194
      India	        3.288
      Western Europe	6.368
      United States 	7.663   (lower 48)
      Australia	7.692
      China	        9.597
      United States 	9.857   (all)
      Canada	        9.985
      Europe 	       10.176   (all continental land area)
      Antarctic      14.000  (just the land ice)
      South America  16.056  (below the equator)
      Russia         17.151  (with Siberia)
      South America  17.840  (all)
      Antarctic      18.000  (at minimum sea ice area)
      Russia         22.402  (USSR, total conquered area)
      Africa         23.587  (sub-Sahara)
      Antarctic      31.500  (at maximum sea ice area)
      

      Ooops.
      Just the “excess” Antarctic sea ice last June was as large as ALL of Greenland.
      Comparable to ALL of Alaska.
      Bigger than ALL of Western Europe above the Arctic Circle.
      At sea ice minimum, the Antarctic ice covers twice the size of Australia.
      Antarctica at minimum sea ice is larger than all of South America’s part of the Southern Hemisphere.
      Antarctica at maximum sea ice is the largest area in the ENTIRE Southern Hemisphere! (Bigger than sub-Sahara Africa and South America combined!).
      To illustrate what is NOT covered in Hansen’s Mercator map projection.
      At sea ice maximum, Antarctic’s total ice covers everything from latitude 59 south all the way to the South Pole.
      Now, draw a line at latitude 60 north, then cover everything from that line all the way to the top of your map. (Hint: Start just a little below the southern tip of Greenland.) Get your white out (or a bucket of paint) and paint all of that area “white” …. That area you just painted is the Antarctic sea ice and land land ice.

      • When I look at the world maps on my wall, Antarctica only shows up as pieces. When I look at a globe it is not easily seen. Maybe they should start mounting globes upside down. 🙂
        Thanks for an interesting comment.

      • You are claiming that Hansen and other climate scientists use a Mercator projection, which exaggerates the size of Antarctica and Greenland compared with the rest of the world. Like Tim Ball you need to read up on map projections. The papers by Hansen appear to show Equirectangular projections, not Mercator, which still exaggerates the Arctic and Antarctic, just not as much.
        GISS maps are Robinson projections which still exaggerates near the poles:
        http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/news/20150116/2014_annual_w-colorbar.png

        • You are claiming that Hansen and other climate scientists use a Mercator projection, which exaggerates the size of Antarctica and Greenland compared with the rest of the world.

          True. I did write that they use a Mercator Projection. They are exaggerating the Arctic [area] (deliberately), and removing the Antarctic area (deliberately) because each practice further promotes their agenda, and the Big Government control they are paid and promoted to produce by their positions within Big Government. Until the small size of their massive “red splashed extrapolations” across the the intermediate wastelands of the tiny Arctic areas of Greenland and the Arctic Ocean are corrected, the very small differences (on unlabeled plots with no latitude lines – which will be poorly understood if seen at all by 97% of their intended victims (er, viewers) – in their equirectangular projections are properly ignored.
          Besides, if “illustrating” a projection to the greater public, what is the training value when the audience needs 15 minutes of explanation about how “a equirectangular projection is less but not quite as bad as a Mercator projection” when the public (if they have heard of ANY projection at all!) only has a passing knowledge of Mercator in the first place?
          So, it is more accurate to say “Just the “excess” sea ice around the Antarctic last June covered an area the size of Greenland. All of the Antarctic ice in September covers an area larger than Africa and South America. Combined.”

      • For consistency, let’s put those in metric units, then compare them to areas you “see’ on the standard climate scientist’s Mercator projection map. Which cuts off all of Antarctic anyway.
        As shown they do not use a Mercator and do not cut off the Antarctic.
        They are exaggerating the Arctic (deliberately), because that further promotes their agenda, and the Big Government control they are paid and promoted to produce by their positions within Big Government. Until the small size of their massive “red splashed extrapolations” across the the intermediate wastelands of the tiny Arctic areas of Greenland and the Arctic Ocean are corrected, the very small differences (on unlabeled plots with no latitude lines – which will be poorly understood if seen at all by 97% of their intended victims (er, viewers) – in their equirectangular projections are properly ignored.
        If they are exaggerating the Arctic they are also exaggerating the Antarctic. The maps I see in Hansen’s paper are annotated. If they really wanted to exaggerate the Arctic then surely they would use the Mercator instead of the more accurate projections.
        You were apparently claiming that Antarctica was larger than it appeared on world maps whereas the opposite is the case, now you are changing your tune! The ‘tiny’ Arctic ocean is a greater area than the USA by the way.
        So, it is more accurate to say “Just the “excess” sea ice around the Antarctic last June covered an area the size of Greenland.
        Now the ‘total’ Antarctic sea ice is about the area of Greenland.

        • False. The released maps and red-splotched areas do eliminate the Antarctic.
          You are nit-picking the lice in your opponent’s eye, and ignoring the log in your own.
          Press releases and political statements ALWAYS emphasize the “loss of arctic sea ice” and ignore the 22 year-long increase in Antarctic sea ice across all seasons of the year and across all latitudes. When the 22-year long Antarctic sea ice increase is mentioned, and it has every now and then, it is described as “small” or insignificant or trivial or less than 1%. Instead, the Antarctic sea ice anomaly is 35% above normal at minimum, and 15% to 25% above normal at maximum. Hardly trivial.
          Arctic sea ice extents have been within 2 std deviations of an assumed 1979-2008 “normal” for the past 2 years. Not out of natural variation by that definition. Antarctic sea ice has been steadily ABOVE 2 std deviations of the same “normal” for almost all of the past 24 months – again, well above “natural variation”!
          Blamed on a change in winds or air temperatures due to “global warming” ?
          No, neither claim stands up against measurements – or the lack thereof.

          You were apparently claiming that Antarctica was larger than it appeared on world maps whereas the opposite is the case, now you are changing your tune! The ‘tiny’ Arctic ocean is a greater area than the USA by the way.

          False. You are both taking words out of context, and missing the conclusions in the words, and forcing the result of your biases and your assumptions on those words.
          The tiny Arctic Ocean is tiny. At 14.0 Mkm^2, it is less than the area between +2 degree north latitude to -2 degree south latitude (17.8 Mkm^2.) that tiny Arctic area is irradiated by sunlight strongly 3 months of theyear, but hides below the horizon, or through 6 to 13 air masses the remaining 9 months of the year. In the earth’s heat balance, the Arctic IS “tiny.”
          But the “vanishing” Arctic sea ice” is just about the only thing saving the CAGW theory today, so it must be propagated. Propagandized.
          Nine months of the year, the sunlight falling on the Antarctic sea ice as it oscillates between 68 soth latitude and 58 south latitude contributes more to the earth’s energy balance than that falling on the Arctic sea ice – trapped in its narrow band between 71 north latitude and 90 north.
          Your words are wrong, thus your conclusion is wrong.
          The Antarctic land ice is a constant 14.0 Mkm^2 – as large as the Arctic Ocean at its maximum. That Antarctic land ice is surrounded by 1.5 Mkm^2 of permanent Antarctic shelf ice.
          Those two areas are surrounded by the Antarctic sea ice as IT varies between a new minimum of 2.5 Mkm^2 and a many-year ever-higher average maximum of 15.5 to 16.0 Mkm^2.
          Thus, the TOTAL Antarctic ice – which are the words I use when total area matters! – is larger than the combined southern hemisphere land areas of South America and sub-Saharan Africa combined. You incorrectly attempt to claim only 2.5 million sq kilometers of Antarctic ice exists. No.
          Today, even as it nears minimum extents, 18 million sq kilometers of ice are available to reflect sunlight down south. The edge of that sea ice is not at 85 north (1.0 Mkm62 of Arctic sea ice), nor 83 north (2.0 Mkm^2 of Arctic sea ice) nor 81 north (the recent record low Arctic sea ice in Sept 2012). The edge of the Antarctic sea ice is instead near the Antarctic circle at 67 south. 1/3 up the midpoint of Greenland.
          But, the maps published (propagandized) by the CAGW community cut off Antarctica at the base of the peninsula, rarely displaying anything south of the Antarctic circle at all. And, if the Antarctic is displayed at all, the sea ice around Antarctica (a band starting at mid-Canada or middle Europe at maximum and extending all the way to the pole) is shown as “blue ocean” …)

        • Phil.

          So, it is more accurate to say “Just the “excess” sea ice around the Antarctic last June covered an area the size of Greenland.

          Now the ‘total’ Antarctic sea ice is about the area of Greenland.

          I was correct in my statement: Last June, the record-breaking “excess” Antarctic sea ice (the Antarctic sea ice anomaly was 2.06 Mkm^2) was the size of Greenland (2.16 Mkm^2.) Today, the Antarctic sea ice anomaly is “only” = 0.501 ; the Antarctic sea ice area = 2.513. So it is “only” 25% above normal.

      • But, the maps published (propagandized) by the CAGW community cut off Antarctica at the base of the peninsula, rarely displaying anything south of the Antarctic circle at all. And, if the Antarctic is displayed at all, the sea ice around Antarctica (a band starting at mid-Canada or middle Europe at maximum and extending all the way to the pole) is shown as “blue ocean” …)
        As shown above this is not true for GISS nor was it true of Hansen’s 1988 paper (the one scientist you actually named), so how about you give some specific examples rather than false generalizations?
        http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/news/20150116/2014_annual_w-colorbar.png

    • So, at “maximum sea ice,” Antarctica is the size of Canada, US, Central America, and South America. Roughly.

  35. The Antarctic is roughly 20 deg C colder than the Arctic. The former is at 2.83 km elevation, the latter at sea level. The atmospheric lapse rate averages 6.4 deg C per km. So 6.4 x 2.83 = 18.1, which explains almost entirely the difference in temperature between the two poles, no?

  36. Thank you, Dr. Ball. This was one of the few science articles that even someone like myself could understand (a lowly computer programmer – business applications, not modeling). I wish I had more professors like yourself when I was in college many years back – you have the rare ability to make complicated subjects understandable.

  37. Thanks Dr Ball, another fine post.
    However to my perspective the major difference is the geography.A frozen continent surround by ocean, versus a shallow sea surrounded by land .
    The transport of heat north continues year around via the river systems.
    The Mackenzie River here in the Northwest Territories never stops moving water even in the coldest winters, ditto the rest of northern flowing watershed.
    In the canadian spring the impact of waters warmed on southern land is obvious to all.
    Lake ice, sea ice is eroded before any observers eyes.
    At summers end, the north starts to freeze while the south stays warm, so these rivers are always the last to ice over and their ice is treacherous.
    Seems to me the combined arctic watersheds move a very substantial amount of heat into the arctic ocean.

  38. “It’s approximately a 6.5 percent variance, which is a minor difference but one amplified by other factors.”
    Not really.
    Although the calculations we see are for full Earth coverage, at any given time the Earth has twice the used rates, i.e. not the average annual rate of 341.5 W/m2 but 683 W/m2. This 6.5% difference is 44.5 W/m2. So between aphelion and perihelion there is a (maximum) 44.5 W/m2 difference in the solar insolation going to the southern hemisphere. Since the maximum insolation also hits the Antarctic during its “summer”, the difference in solar input for Antarctica is very significant – especially since the IPCC has equated the CO2 forcing for a doubling value to 3.5 W/m2 as a whole Earth, or 7.0 W/m2 equivalent for the half-Earth under illumination.
    And yet the Arctic is, on average, 2C warmer than the Antarctic.
    The reversed situation of insolation and average temperature tells you that the Earth is a gigantic heat redistribution (or solar energy) machine adept at ignoring simply physics. Any slight modification in the current system will result in noticeable changes elsewhere. It is only by assuming that the climate system is stable to fifteen parts in a million can you expect stability of the eco-green, IPCC narrative.
    Regional differences are huge and not obvious in their causes. We backtrack from observations to causes that seem reasonable and are sufficient to explain the current phenomena – but not even the recent past as in the 1940 to 1960 cooling. The CO2-is-the-devil curse is built on the myth of climate stability (in the 60-year time-frame).
    The bogeyman in the climate wars is the nervous Nellie looking for simple answers and certainty in a complex and uncertain world.

  39. Hello Tim.
    Sorry for been critical at this point, but from my perspective in the climate issue, your article above is the very meaning and explanation of the point that AGW and man’s influence in climate was not a hoax, at least from the point THAT it started at, and also the claim that most of concerned in climate and climate change belong to the 97% consensus of AGW.
    Your article above is the very proof of the cardinal mistake of the AGW.
    If you ever pretend that Hansens and Phil Jones of this world are inferior to you in their approach and understanding of climate, then you should reconsider.
    While decades ago these guys had any right to approach the issue the way they did, you could not afford it at this time, in the 2015 .
    You see, whatever you may claim about your point in science, even while considering the basic approach for a starting point to further expand the knowledge, when it comes to albedo effect in climate, is already proved that is meaningless in the climate and climate change.
    You are at the very point that Hansen and Phil were decades ago, and I am really sorry that you can’t see that.
    And these other guys you may disagree with were in a far much better position that you are today.
    Hopefully I am wrong, but the way I see it is that without the albedo effect there is no basis of AGW, as the thing stands, and Hansen and Phil were at it long before you, and they seem to be in a very paradoxical possition.
    Thank you
    cheers

    • Would you like to rewrite that in intelligible English!
      Catastrophic Global Warming has nothing directly to do with albedo, the hypothesis is about the role of CO2 in driving climate change. Please find me one example where a recorded change of climate has been caused by CO2. Oh and which 97% are you taking about ?

      • Hello Peter Forster.
        Is really a pain to go through again and again with this bull sh..t when people try to argue about things they have no clue about.
        I don’t know how much you have heard about Runaway Global Warming, but that is the initial claim of AGW, and had a lot for not saying it was totally based on albedo, then where Hansens and Phils started at with AGW.
        WE HAVE COME A LONG WAY SINCE THEN BUT NEVER THE LESS THAT PROVED THAT ALBEDO IS NOT THE LANGUAGE OF CLIMATE, ATMOSPHERE OR THE EARTH SYSTEM, AND WHETHER YOU UNDERSTAND OR NOT MY ENGLISH THAT IS NOT THE POINT, THE POINT IS THAT WE HAVE NO CLUE YET AT WHAT LANGUAGE CLIMATE, ATMOSPHERE AND EARTH SYSTEM IS SHOUTING AT US, AS WE TOO OBSESSED WITH THE ALBEDO LANGUAGE.
        Hope this clarifies the matter for you.
        Thanks for the interest, please do not hesitate to ask for further explanation if you still not clear.
        cheers

      • Oh, and when regarding the 97%, is the 97% consensus in the AGW, the one you definitely belong to, regardless if you accept or realise it or not.
        Whether Catastrophic or Benign AGW is still AGW.
        AND THAT WHAT THE 97% CONSENSUS IS ABOUT, the consensus about the AGW..
        Sorry for saying that, but no other way to put it.
        cheers

  40. Dr. Ball, thanks for the comment on the so-called ozone hole, which is simply an annual, seasonal cycle in the balance between natural ozone creation and natural ozone destruction. On the creation side, solar UV is required to create and replenish the naturally diminishing ozone, but in the winter, the poles are dark and no UV hits the atmosphere. It really is no more complicated than that. When the sun rises over the Arctic and Antarctic circles in spring, ozone begins to be created again, and the “hole” gradually disappears. Anyone who claims to know that the ozone hole is man made, or that it’s a climatic harbinger, or that it is somehow a tragedy for human beings, animals, or anything, is experiencing an internal ID-10-T error code.

  41. In reply to:

    John Niclasen February 14, 2015 at 12:21 am
    Good overview, Tim! And then there is the additional feature, the Bipolar Seesaw:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_see-saw

    ‘Polar see-saw’ (William: This phenomena is incorrect labeled. Should be called the ‘Cyclic Antarctic Ice Sheet Temperature Anomaly’. Why? It is important to note/understand that is fact that the phenomena is cyclic, what the heck could cyclically cause the planet to warm and cool? Hint it is the sun. Important that only the Antarctic ice sheet temperature is out of syc with cyclic planetary change, both hemisphere. What the heck could change to cause that to happen?)
    The polar see-saw (also: Bipolar seesaw) is the phenomenon that temperature changes in the northern and southern hemispheres may be out of phase. The theory (or hypothesis) states that large changes, f.e. when the glaciers are intensely growing or depleting, in the formation of ocean bottom water in both poles take a long time to exert their effect in the other hemisphere. Estimates of the period of delay vary, one typical estimate is 1500 years. This is usually studied in the context of ice-cores taken from Antarctica and Greenland. (William: This Wikipedia description is disingenuous. i.e. Incorrect and the person who wrote the summary new it was incorrect. Long live the climate wars!

    The video presentation linked to in Niclasen’s comment contains and helps to perpetuated three urban myths.
    Urban Myth 1: ‘Polar See-Saw’ Should be called ‘Greenland/Antarctic Ice Sheet cyclic temperature Anomaly’
    It is common in science to use an incorrect, vague, misleading label for a phenomena which confuses the facts concerning the phenomena and makes it difficult if not impossible to solve the puzzle of what is causing the phenomena in question.
    It is common in science for urban myths to be passed on from teacher to students and to the public. The climate wars are part of the reason why these urban myths are perpetuated and promoted.
    It is a fact that the planet cyclically warms and cools (both hemispheres) correlating with cyclic changes to the sun.
    When the planet cyclically warms (both hemisphere) the Antarctic ice sheet slightly cools and when the planet cyclically cools the Antarctic ice sheet slightly warms. The Antarctic ice sheet polar vortex isolates the Antarctic ice sheet from temperature changes in the Southern ocean. The Antarctic peninsula extends outside of the polar vortex. Ice core samples from the Antarctic peninsula show cyclic warming and cooling that matches the cyclic warming and cooling that occurs in the Northern hemisphere.
    The Southern hemisphere as a whole warms when the Northern hemisphere cools and vice versa. It is only the Antarctic ice sheet that slightly cools when the planet as a whole cyclically warms and slightly warms when the planet slightly cools.
    The second urban myth is that ocean currents mysteriously change to cause the ‘polar see-saw”. The third urban myth is that the earth’s climate system and mysteriously jump from one state to another with no significant forcing change. (I will address the other two urban myths in separate comments.)
    Temperature on the two ice sheets, Greenland and Antarctic can be directly determined by in situ temperature measure of the ice sheet using thermometers (RTDs) that are buried in the ice at different depths and then insulating the hole from ambient temperature. When equilibrium is reached the buried thermometers provide a method to determine past temperatures on the ice sheets for roughly 10,000 years.
    The borehole temperatures data (Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets) indicate there is no time delay for the Antarctic temperature anomaly. This observational fact and the fact that it is only the Antarctic ice that is slightly cooling when the both hemisphere are warming and vice versa completely rules out the possibility that ocean current changes are causing the Antarctic ice cyclic temperature sheet anomaly. (i.e. It is physically impossible for the ocean current changes to cause what is observed. The assertion that ocean current changes are causing the cyclic change is an urban myth. Completely incorrect.
    The planet is cyclically warming and cooling due to solar changes that modulate the amount of planetary cloud at high latitudes. The albedo of the Antarctic ice sheet is slightly higher than clouds. An increase in cloud cover and the fact that Antarctic ice sheet is isolated from the Southern ocean temperature changes due to Antarctic polar vortex explains why the Antarctic cyclic temperature anomaly occurs.
    http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0612145v1

    The Antarctic climate anomaly and galactic cosmic rays by Henrik Svensmark
    Borehole temperatures in the ice sheets spanning the past 6000 years show Antarctica repeatedly warming when Greenland cooled, and vice versa (Fig. 1) [13, 14]. North-south oscillations of greater amplitude associated with Dansgaard-Oeschger events are evident in oxygen isotope data from the Wurm-Wisconsin glaciation[15].
    The phenomenon has been called the polar see-saw[15,16], but that implies a north-south symmetry that is absent. Greenland is better coupled to global temperatures than Antarctica is, and the fulcrum of the temperature swings is near the Antarctic Circle. A more apt term for the effect is the Antarctic climate anomaly. Attempts to account for it have included the hypothesis of a south-flowing warm ocean current crossing the Equator[17] with a built-in time lag supposedly intended to match paleoclimatic data. That there is no significant delay in the Antarctic climate anomaly is already apparent at the high-frequency end of Fig. (1). While mechanisms involving ocean currents might help to intensify or reverse the effects of climate changes, they are too slow to explain the almost instantaneous operation of the Antarctic climate anomaly.

  42. “Influx of warmer water is a major factor, as occurred in 1816.”
    The Polar see-saw in action. The Sun weakened from 1995 and the same has occurred. There seems to be a general consensus that the Arctic temperatures generally follow global temperatures, which then necessitates a sophism to explain the polar see-saw effect.
    What has confused everyone is the warm spike in the GISP ice core proxy around 1000 AD. Regional proxies show Europe as warm or warmer than recently in the 8th century when GISP was cold. The evidence for cooling in the mid latitudes and increased El Nino induced drought in the late 10th and early 11th centuries is there. The same for the misnomer of the so called “Minoan Warm Period” in GISP around 1200 BC.

  43. There is substantial evidence that CFCs enlarged the Antarctic ozone hole, although I agree that it has existed during pre-industrial times. The extent of this phenomenon is well known since sometime in the late 1970s, and it has definitely grown until a few years after the Montreal Protocol. And there was “gun smoke” found – chlorine monoxide. This is formed from chlorine from organic compounds – not from chloride ions that are present in sea salt or hydrochloric acid.
    Modern shrinkage of the antarctic ozone hole is being slowed by emissions of halogenated carbon compounds, above what should now be occurring. For example, carbon tetrachloride is showing signs of what I could refer to as “underground” evaporation.

  44. I don’t believe the Earth wobbles, rather it stays on it’s access and the angle of inclination changes the temperature at the poles as we spiral from 4 to 10 o’clock or 8 to 2 or any other opposing combinations . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jHsq36_NTU You may have to use your minds eye to see this process .

  45. RACookPE1978 February 13, 2015 at 10:57 pm sats:
    “… What change in wind speed is calculated for a actual global average temperature change between 1992 and 2015 of less than 1/10 of one degree?”
    You have a mighty peculiar idea of what world temperature was doing between 1992 and 2015. It isn’t even the fake warming that GISS, NCDC and HadCRUT have foisted upon us which I thought you would use.. What really happened was that there was no warming at all in the eighties and nineties until the step warming of 1999 raised global temperature by a third of a degree Celsius in only three years. It stopped in 2002 and the hiatus followed. That is the only warming we have had since the start of the satellite era. I am leaving out of course the the five El Nino peaks of the eighties and nineties as non-warming (see figure 15 in “What Warming?”). I am also leaving out the La Nina of 2008 and the El Nino of 2010 as they mutually cancel out. That step warming amounts to approximately one half of the past century’s warming. Since the El Nino peaks of the eighties and nineties were non-warming we have here another 18 year stretch of hiatus on our hands, hidden by the fake warming of those three temperature kings. If you add this period to the the current hiatus period you will end up with 80 percent of the time since the IPCCs founding being entirely a non-warming period. According to Anthony Watts there are currently over 50 articles either in press or already published, all trying to prove the non-existence of the present hiatus. My. my, fifty explanations, non of them any good. Some of them are even looking for the lost heat in the ocean bottom. And not one of the authors even knows that there is still another hiatus for them to explain. Do you think they should withdraw their current papers as incomplete? Or, better yet, should they apologize for misleading the public?.

  46. Enjoyed the post. A nice reminder about the differences between our Earthly poles. From what I recall, at times in the Earth’s history, neither pole had any land as far as we can tell. It was only around 25 to 40 million years ago that Antarctica slowly descended to the south pole and froze over with ice by around 15 million years ago. By 50 million years, Antarctica may be moving away from the south pole as suggested by this graphic.
    http://www.scotese.com/images/18F050v4.jpg
    The Earth will be a much different place by then and probably warmer as the sun slowly increases its temperature and heat output.

    • And did you know that the north pole (looking at a bar magnet ) is really the south pole. In a bar magnet , magnetism flows in the south (negative) and out the north (positive). But in a battery energy flows from positive to negative . A high pressure system ( positive charge ) works in the down direction and is responsible for good weather and a low pressure system (negative charge )works in the up direction and responsible for foul weather. Look at it this way , water in a river flows downhill quite freely , unless it hit a boulder and has to alter it’s course. Water is like energy , it will take the path of least resistance and resistance creates work and as we all know the harder we work the hotter we get .

  47. During Dansgaard-Oeschger or Heinrich cooling events, the jet stream speed increases which increases the amount of dust that is deposited on the Greenland ice sheet (the dust is from China). During a Heinrich event there is a hundred fold increase in dust deposited on the Greenland ice sheet.
    The recent observed changes: 1) Highest sea ice in recorded history in the Antarctic, recovery of sea ice in the Arctic, and increased jet stream speed supports the assertion that what was inhibiting the solar magnetic cycle modulation of planetary cloud cover is now starting to abate.
    Based on current solar magnetic cycle activity there will be global cooling of roughly 0.6C. What I am unsure is timing of the cooling.
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-01-13/surging-jet-stream-winds-hinder-u-s-bound-flights-from-europe

    Surging Jet-Stream Winds Hinder U.S.-Bound Flights From Europe
    Stronger westerly headwinds for U.S.-bound flights are stretching out travel times, forcing some planes to stop for refueling. Trips such as London to New York, a busy business route, are running almost eight hours — 45 minutes longer than voyages in September.
    Two Philadelphia-bound American Airlines flights, one from Brussels and the other from Amsterdam, had to touch down on Jan. 11 to refuel in Bangor, Maine, said Scott Ramsay, the carrier’s managing director of its integrated operations center. The journey from Brussels took 9 hours and 16 minutes, about an hour more than three months earlier, according to industry data tracker FlightAware.
    Higher Costs
    Flights across the Atlantic to eastern U.S. cities in December 2013 averaged 19 minutes later than a year earlier, according to industry data tracker MasFlight.com. Travel times in December 2014 were similar to those in 2013, MasFlight’s data from more than 1,300 flights a year showed.
    With the threat of increasingly strong headwinds every winter, airlines face higher costs on those westbound flights with the use of extra fuel and the crew’s time.
    “When you were planning to fly non-stop, stopping for fuel costs money,” said George Hamlin, president of Hamlin Transportation Consulting, who has more than 40 years of experience in commercial aviation and aerospace.

  48. The insolation difference between perihelion (Jan) and aphelion (July) is huge, >10%. It is remarkable that there is no signal from this in the global troposphere or land temperature record. Very remarkable. This means there is very strong and active climate adaptation and negative feedback which swallows up changes in insolation.
    This powerful adaptation of the climate eats up the 25% difference in insolation associated with the “dim sun” paradox of strengthening insolation over earth’s history. And, needless to say, it consigns to absolute irrelevance and trivial meaninglessness all blather about a few watts per square meter of CO2 “back radiation “.

    • Phil says, “The insolation difference between perihelion (Jan) and aphelion (July) is huge, >10%. It is remarkable that there is no signal from this in the global troposphere or land temperature record. ”
      ==================================
      Ah but there is a signal, and it is dam persistent. The atmosphere cools despite the great increase in insolation.. Why? IMV, two reason are primary. The increased albedo of the land rich NH during its winter, and the much greater insolation below the ocean surface in the SH hemisphere. Thus both the albedo and the solar insulation penetrating below the ocean surface, cool the atmosphere. Does the earth (land, oceans, and atmosphere), gain or lose energy during this period of most intense insolation? I do not know, but I wish I did. Do the NIPCC climate models know?

      • Thanks – an inverse signal, that’s even more puzzling. So insolation has multiple interactions and layers of complexity. This insight contrasts with the CAGW approach in which a calculated increase in “back radiation” from CO2 is regarded as “end of story “. It is clearly only the beginning.
        One would have thought with the mountain of research on radiation budgets that the perihelion-aphelion difference in insolation would have been used to the max as a natural contrast reference – but maybe they just prefer computer models with more predictable domesticated outcomes.

      • “One would have thought with the mountain of research on radiation budgets that the perihelion-aphelion difference in insolation would have been used to the max as a natural contrast reference –..”
        ==========================================
        Exactly! I have tried to get others to focus on this. SW radiation entering the oceans has a very long residence time, from days to centuries. Thus todays ocean penetrating SW radiation is added to daily for a very long time. So a seasonal increase of 90 watts per sq. meter, is, IMV what recharges the oceans. I would like to know how much WV changes during the SH summer, and if that then decreases the surface insolation. With all the millions and billions spent on climate change, one would hope such basic research would already be done.

      • Just a speculation, but could the perihelion-aphelion periodic change in SW insolation of the tropical ocean be for instance contribute to the annual forcing and phase-locking of ENSO?

  49. Just to be silly . . . As Treebeard said, “I always like going south; somehow, it feels like going downhill”. Since North is up, and South is down, North will always be warmer, because warmth rises.

  50. We have a rover on mars. How difficult would it be to design a rover to stay at the north pole, or go wherever we need to take measurements.

    • We can get away with putting Pu-238 heat sources in a rover on Mars. I don’t think that is as simple to justify for an earth-bound rover. And nothing else will provide a constant reliable energy source for years at a time. Yes, we can design a rover. We just can’t power it.

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