Antarctic Sea Ice as a “cork” to prevent CO2 release

From the UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE and the “thank goodness Antarctic Sea Ice is growing” department comes this surprising finding.

Antarctic Sea Ice anomaly since 1979 to present. Note that it is currently summer in the southern hemisphere.

Antarctic Sea Ice anomaly since 1979 to present. Note that it is currently summer in the southern hemisphere.

Melting of massive ice ‘lid’ resulted in huge release of CO2 at the end of the ice age

A new study reconstructing conditions at the end of the last ice age suggests that as the Antarctic sea ice melted, massive amounts of carbon dioxide that had been trapped in the ocean were released into the atmosphere.

The study includes the first detailed reconstruction of the Southern Ocean density of the period and identified how it changed as the Earth warmed. It suggests a massive reorganisation of ocean temperature and salinity, but finds that this was not the driver of increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The study, led by researchers from the University of Cambridge, is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The ocean is made up of different layers of varying densities and chemical compositions. During the last ice age, it was thought that the deepest part of the ocean was made up of very salty, dense water, which was capable of trapping a lot of CO2. Scientists believed that a decrease in the density of this deep water resulted in the release of CO2 from the deep ocean to the atmosphere.

However, the new findings suggest that although a decrease in the density of the deep ocean did occur, it happened much later than the rise in atmospheric CO2, suggesting that other mechanisms must be responsible for the release of CO2 from the oceans at the end of the last ice age.

“We set out to test the idea that a decrease in ocean density resulted in a rise in CO2 by reconstructing how it changed across time periods when the Earth was warming,” said the paper’s lead author Jenny Roberts, a PhD student in Cambridge’s Department of Earth Sciences who is also a member of the British Antarctic Survey. “However what we found was not what we were expecting to see.”

In order to determine how the oceans have changed over time and to identify what might have caused the massive release of CO2, the researchers studied the chemical composition of microscopic shelled animals that have been buried deep in ocean sediment since the end of the ice age. Like layers of snow, the shells of these tiny animals, known as foraminifera, contain clues about what the ocean was like while they were alive, allowing the researchers to reconstruct how the ocean changed as the ice age was ending.

They found that during the cold glacial periods, the deepest water was significantly denser than it is today. However, what was unexpected was the timing of the reduction in the deep ocean density, which happened some 5,000 years after the initial increase in CO2, meaning that the density decrease couldn’t be responsible for releasing CO2 to the atmosphere.

“Before this study there were these two observations, the first was that glacial deep water was really salty and dense, and the second that it also contained a lot of CO2, and the community put two and two together and said these two observations must be linked,” said Roberts. “But it was only through doing our study, and looking at the change in both density and CO2 across the deglaciation, that we found they actually weren’t linked. This surprised us all.”

Through examination of the shells, the researchers found that changes in CO2 and density are not nearly as tightly linked as previously thought, suggesting something else must be causing CO2 to be released from the ocean.

Like a bottle of wine with a cork, sea ice can prevent CO2-rich water from releasing its CO2 to the atmosphere. The Southern Ocean is a key area of exchange of CO2 between the ocean and atmosphere. The expansion of sea ice during the last ice age acted as a ‘lid’ on the Southern Ocean, preventing CO2 from escaping. The researchers suggest that the retreat of this sea ice lid at the end of the last ice age uncorked this vintage CO2, resulting in an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

“Although conditions at the end of the last ice age were very different to today, this study highlights the importance that dynamic features such as sea ice have on regulating the climate system, and emphasises the need for improved understanding and prediction as we head into our ever warming world,” said Roberts.


100 thoughts on “Antarctic Sea Ice as a “cork” to prevent CO2 release

    • Richard O’Keefe,

      It actually works like this (italics from the article):

      A new study reconstructing conditions at the end of the last ice age suggests that as the Antarctic sea ice melted, massive amounts of carbon dioxide that had been trapped in the ocean were released into the atmosphere… during the cold glacial periods, the deepest water was significantly denser than it is today…

      …demonstrating that the laws of physics had mysteriously changed, which helped the researchers understand why their new hypothesis is contradicted by ice core records.

      Dr. Roberts said, “Conditions at the end of the last ice age were very different to today… the need for improved understanding and prediction as we head into our ever warming world,..”

      “Therefore,” explained Dr. Roberts, “More funding is urgently needed…”

      • So these guys think that the ocean is carbonated like a soda and sea ice acts as a lid, essentially keeping the ocean pressurized and the gas trapped? Golly gee, and here I was thinking that temperature and pressure of the water dictated the saturation point of CO2, with colder water absorbing more. Next time I want to prevent my soda from becoming flat I’ll just throw an ice cube in it, that should trap the gas in /Sarc.

      • All they have actually found is that previous theories aren’t supported by their observations. Their “finding” about the sea ice is pure speculation – they have no information at all that leads to that particular conclusion it’s just that they can’t think of any other explanation.

      • “The deepest water was significantly denser than it is today”

        And this statement was from the University of Cambridge? So this ridiculous statement demonstrates either the whole paper Is a spoof or that Cambridge is in the IS caliphate, where BS is the norm.

      • It had to warm first before the ice melted. So how can they distinguish the CO2 released because the oceans warmed from that supposedly released by the disappearance of the “lid” of ice?

  1. But where’s the warming. IF there is warming, it certainly isn’t even close to the doomsday Gore said we’d be facing by now. The data has been fudged and I’ve heard that the has been no real increase in the average global temperature in some 15 or more years.

    Where’s the beef?

  2. “Huge”, “Massive” amounts of CO2?
    With current (in geologic times) levels of around 300ppm of CO2 there could not possibly have been a huge or massive release.
    Man’s minute release has supposedly raised the level to 400ppm, which means before the Ice Age end “huge” release it must have been below the level to sustain life on earth.

    • Correct. Where does the record show such massive releases of CO2? Levels of atmospheric CO2 over the past 400,000 years have allegedly ranged from 280 ppm to 320 ppm. This study was simply a make work project, it appears to me.

  3. “Ever warming world”? Had to be included to get published.

    But surely, if the sea ice acted as a lid, there must have been no ocean currents which could have interchanged the sea water under the lid with the ice free sea water next to it? Can one really envisage the Southern Ocean with no currents? Storm winds disrupt the sea ice at the edges, creating open water – unless the sea ice really extended to Magellan Strait and the Cape of Good Hope there must have been sufficient tears at the edge that open water channels could have existed into the more southern areas. OK it would be cold on top of the ice, but how thick an ice layer would it have to be to have steady temperatures of, say, -70 Celsius on the surface and -2 Celsius at the bottom of the ice.

    Again, where did the CO2 come from? Presumably from the mid-ocean ridge volcanoes and vents. Now think – bottom layer is rich in CO2 and is salty and hence dense. The atmosphere warms and then some 400 to 800 years later the atmospheric CO2 increases. Some 4000 to 6000 years (allowing plus or minus 1000 over their estimate) after the CO2 increases the bottom water decreases in density. Unless there is a mechanism for the CO2 to escape in the interim, there must be a release of CO2 after the original increase.

    This implies that the current increse of CO2 could be affected by the release of gas from the remaining deep dense salty layers, which may not be readily visible as part of the net interchange of CO2 between fossil fuels and plants. All very complicated

    • Dudley Horscroft,

      As the delay was about 5000 years to get the deep oceans less dense, most of the extra CO2 was already released over the warmer periods in the Holocene. The current increase started ~160 years ago, if one looks at high resolution (~10 years) ice core records with another ~100 ppmv increase: about as much as between the depth of an ice age and an interglacial, but then in 160 years, not the 5,000 years nature needed to warm up…

    • Dudley,
      How can it be complicated?

      The science is settled.

      What part of those four words do the authors not fully understand?

      The science is settled.
      We’ve been assured that, by many and various demi-gods [many seemingly still looking for funding, but that’s demi-god frailty for you!] – so it must be true.
      It has to be.

      The science is settled.
      The UK’s own Ed Miliband’s [spelling? Who knows? Apart from family, sorry . . . .] windmills prove it, apparently; and the super-elevation of F. Hollande and B. Obama to the ranks of the prophets [basis a stodgy – and non-binding – performance in (Gay) Paris] seem confirmed, the latter to be a sort of co-joint-equal with John the Baptist, we’re told.

      Don’t even mention Nobel Prizes, please.

      Dudley, Mods, please note elements of sarcasm, seafood, nuts etc., may be contained in the foregoing. And the next bit, I now realise.
      Read at your own pleasure, as it is written.
      PPS, isn’t every resident in/citizen of/supporter of a sports team in/descendant of a putative [if they didn’t migrate] Euro-citizen an Automatic Nobel Laureate?

      The science is settled; so One Mann I Know may – through ancestry – be a real putative equal-co-joint-substitute Laureate?

      PS Always Remember – The science is settled.

    • Dudley, agree re the ocean currents. They are saying the currents stopped circulating north-south, basically.

      >Earth Sciences who is also a member of the British Antarctic Survey. “However what we found was not what we were expecting to see.”

      Yeah, well then, it shows that earlier models and assumptions were and are contradicted by reality. Shades of most climate science. The idea that ice creates a cap surely has to be based on “keeping the water cold” not “a cap”. Sea water is warmer than the ice floating on it. If the ice melted, did that start the oceans circulating again?

  4. I suppose it depends upon the thickness of the sea ice. One test for this idea would be to measure the CO2 concentration under our present day sea ice and compare it to the concentration in the nearby open Southern Ocean. I don’t know if they have already done this.

    • That would be real science so of course they have not done that.

      Also, if the sea ice is preventing CO2 from out-gassing from the ocean, I assume it is also preventing the ocean from absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere.

      My climate model concludes these effects exactly cancel each other out. There …. problem fixed.

      • Bernard L.
        “My climate model concludes these effects exactly cancel each other out. There …. problem fixed.”

        Forgive me – where is the need For Further Fulsome Funding?

        “My climate model concludes these effects MAY exactly cancel each other out. Further Forcibly Fulsome Funding Finally F*/*g Forced ….”

        Your problem fixed – for no fee!

        Auto, Fairly Firmly Fixated on F’s

        (And also, always avoid alliteration, Auto. ~mod.)

  5. So this says that warming melted the ice and let the CO2 out. Nice to have causality going the right way.

    Bit curious how the ocean becomes more dense… and by just how much… Unless there was a massive entrapment of salt somewhere, the number can’t be very big… After all, life did survive in it.

    • Beat me to it EMSmith: I immediately picked up on the fact that their hypothesis was that CO2 increased as the world warmed, not the other way round. These guys will be drummed out of the warm-mongers’ union.

      • We know that the warming began before the increase in CO2. No-one – not even Realclimate – disputes this. The question is did the release of CO2 create warming feedback, i.e. warming -> more CO2 -> more warming. To be fair to Hansen he explains this bit quite well though he may have under-estimated albedo changes.

      • But this is just what they’ve always claimed – that first there is warming, then CO2 gets released which amplifies the warming. So I think they stay safely on the gravy train.

      • We know that the warming began before the increase in CO2. No-one – not even Realclimate – disputes this.
        this information was not discovered until after Hansen/Gore had promoted CO2 as the cause of warming. It causes all sort of problems for the GHG theory because it should be impossible for an ice age to form if the GHG CO2 theory is correct.

        Once you are in an interglacial, and the CO2 has been released from the warming ocean, and the feedback from this CO2 has further warmed the oceans, releasing even more CO2, how do you get back to an ice age? You can’t because there just isn’t enough variation in the earth’s orbit.

        Instead, they have had to come up with the theory that ice ages have nothing to do with the average temperature of the earth, rather they are driven by the amount of sunlight reaching the far north. Which flies in the face of using the earth’s average surface temperature as a metric for climate change.

      • No-one – not even Realclimate – disputes this.
        This WUWT article does a good job of explaining why the temperature records cannot be explained by CO2 GHG Theory.

        Also, the following graph below is one of my favorites. If you notice, temperatures always start going up when CO2 is low. So the only thing you can say for sure is that low CO2 causes temps to rise. And, if you notice, temps always start falling when CO2 is high. So the only thing you can say for sure is the high CO2 causes temps to fall. Both observations directly contradict CO2 GHG Theroy.

      • John Finn, if CO2 causes a feedback loop that increases the temperature then the Earth should have turned into a piece of charcoal a few million years back when CO2 was over 5,000 parts per million !!!

      • Alan Robinson,

        Here are more charts showing that ∆CO2 is caused by ∆temp:

        A long time scale chart showing the same cause and effect:

        [click in chart to embiggen; see ‘Note’ in chart]

      • Marcus

        John Finn, if CO2 causes a feedback loop that increases the temperature then the Earth should have turned into a piece of charcoal a few million years back when CO2 was over 5,000 parts per million !!!

        Why?? 5000 ppm is only 4 doublings above pre-industrial levels. Even assuming the IPCC central estimate of 2.7 deg per 2xCO2 that would only be responsible for a temp increase of a about 11 deg C

      • “Here are more charts showing that ∆CO2 is caused by ∆temp:”

        tsk tsk

        DB that is HALF right. climate science PREDICTED the lag, so thanks for noting they get it right
        And the other half of that Delta temp can be caused by Delta C02.

        two different laws. The GHE effect says that increasing c02 will increase temps.
        We know this is true because good republican DOD scientists said so long before Al gore appeared.
        We know this is true because good engineers like the skeptic Jeff id couldnt do their work without this physics.. And even good laord monktonn knows this,

        We also know that if the planet warms more c02 will come of out the ocean.

        two different laws. both true. both a part of climate science

      • Steve Mosher, DB did not dispute that CO2 can cause some minor warming. Rather he asserts that the record indicates that CO2 is not now or ever a dominant driver of global T.

    • That was my first thought too EM, a change in density?
      John Finn, if the release of CO2 did cause a feedback, ‘i.e. warming->more CO2->more warming’, then where/when was the higher level of CO2? It’s not in the ice record.

      • Not sure what you mean. The equilibrium level was reached when vegetation had grown in sufficient quantities to take up the excess CO2.

    • Not that difficult to follow: when ice forms, salt is expelled as the ice can’t contain much salts. The expelled salts are accumulating in the remaining waters and the water density increases and sinks into the deep (still working that way at the end of the Gulf Stream at the edge of the sea ice and around Antarctica).

      Cold water – even salty – can absorb much more CO2, that goes down to the deep with the downwelling waters to return some 1000 years later near the equator. During glacial periods, the density of all (deep) ocean waters was increased (and CO2 content from lower temperatures) from ice formation on oceans and land, as the total volume of the oceans was 120 meters (or so) lower than today.

      I wonder if the sea ice melt was not later than they expected: land ice only started to melt when the high temperatures were already reached during the previous interglacial (the Eemian). Land ice needs more time, depending of thickness, but oceans need more time to warm up enough to melt sea ice. Here the graphs comparing temperature, CO2, CH4 and land ice (18O/16O ratio in N2O as proxy for ice sheet formation) in the Vostok ice core:

      • Since noone has mentioned them, don’t forget the methane hydrates. These apparently form under pressure at lower temperatures but can decompose when either pressure or temperature is raised.

      • Re. FE:

        Interesting graph. Albedo effects are minimal, depending on what T is measured. What T is measured or reconstructed, Vostok ice surface? –AGF

      • Also, Ferdinand, the elevation of the top of the ice on land was 3000 to more than 6000m so it would be slow to simply melt for that reason in particular. Certainly, 800,000 years of ice in cores suggests that a warming world of a few degrees didn’t melt the land ice on Greenland or Antarctica to any great extent. Rather than simply melt with warming, the land ice flows away from the poles at glacial rates and the ice sheets thin with reduced snowfall and through this process decay, breakup and melting mainly occur in the lower latitudes of the ice sheets. If there were east-west mountain barriers to inhibit this flow, then we would still have thick ice sheets in the northern hemisphere because (like on Greenland) they would be too high in altitude to melt.

    • I’m curious myself how the density of abyssal sea water is determined from pelagic foraminifera tests. Anyone know?

  6. Where is the evidence for a scientist to claim ‘our ever-warming world’.

    It has been warming for just over 200 years from a Little Ice Age.

    Has she communed recently with God who has told her that he has abolished Ice Ages in a deal with Green Peace, brokered by the Pope??

    • Started warming 12,000+ years ago. When all the ice started leaving.
      Og no see ice. (where’s the sea ice?)
      Og skin like fire.
      Og now have mow lawn.
      Og hate warm.

  7. More plumbers, electricians, street sweepers and nurses are needed. Perhaps these people could retrain and do something useful for the remainder of their careers.

    • Good God NO!

      The last thing the world needs is plumbers who tell you that there is no leaking pipe as it does not appear in their computer models.

      • I vote we put them to work busting up the thousands of useless and environmentally damaging windmills. Manual tools only, sledge hammers and maybe – MAYBE – the use of wheelbarrows, although I wouldn’t want them to enjoy too much in the way of technical advantage. Let them live like they preach and go back to a pre-industrial existence. Seems a fitting sentence for liars, manipulators and cheats who would gladly sell out civilization.

      • AD
        Wheel barrows, but with gently elliptical wheels, and odd-length handles.
        Saws, but with flint teeth only.
        And, in case the weather is cool, boxing gloves.

        Auto, feeling vicious.

      • @ auto, Jan 5, 1.13 pm, vicious? That was down right mean! Boxing gloves!!!! I hope they won’t use them on their foremen after 8 hrs of work ( 2 coffee/ water breaks @ 10 mins each and a 15 min lunch break. 6 days a week, their goal after fossil fuels are gone.)

      • @ auto, Jan 5, 1.13 pm, vicious?
        That was down right mean! Boxing gloves!!!! I hope they won’t use them on their foremen after 8 hrs of work! ( although I doubt they would have enough energy left )

  8. All interesting until the last paragraph which spoils it all. “As we head into our ever warming world”. Such presumption! Or is it just a climate science paper’s version of pornography’s “money shot”?

  9. Unfortunately this is more tipping-point fodder. OMG if Antarctica suddenly melts then the CO2 shoots up even faster! If only we can hold the temperature rise to 1.5 C rise over the next 85 years, we’ll survive … until the 86th year when the temperature is expected to increase another 0.02 C and Antarctica melts.

  10. If you see the newer sattelite mesurements of the CO2 concentration, one general circulation pattern shows up. The ocean is releasing CO2 in the tropical zones (higher water temperature, saturation level is lower) and at the polar regions the water dissolves CO2 because it is colder. So in general, it seems the ice cap would disturb the solution of CO2 in the ocean. That would be the opposite direction than claimed in the report.

  11. They are still “putting 2 and 2 together”. The problem is, they are still using CAGW math.

      • You must have been in elementary or middle school when they were teaching the “new math.”
        Recall that an entire generation of school kids, after being immersed in the new math garbage were incapable of doing any math at all.

        Oh well, if this is so, you will have no problem helping your kids with their “common core” math .

  12. I think these “scientists” got their inspiration from a bottle (or three) of wine. The further down in the bottle they got, the more inspired they got. The silver lining is, they know what they can do with their corks.

  13. It is unlikely that cold polar waters were ever a source of atmospheric CO2. It is more likely as the earth warmed the tropical oceans became a greater source. Yes, the ice is a barrier for exchange between air and sea, but it is more likely that corking the sink is the effect that they are observing.
    Melting sea ice decreases the density of surface sea water and allows the big sink to suck up a lot of atmospheric CO2. This is more favorable for phytoplankton blumes that consume as much CO2 as is available. Freezing sea water increases the density of the water directly under the ice. This more dense water falls toward the bottom and becomes a part of the deep ocean currents.

    • @fhhaney, 808 pm, I had a similar thought where in this study are the ocean currents? I am not sure at all what the currents at the end of the Ice Age looked like then compared to what they are today. To me a huge fail in this study.

  14. Is anyone taking that ‘research’ seriously? Very hard to tell as almost all of what zealots would refer to as ‘mainstream climate research’ appears to be nothing more than exquisite demonstrations of Poe’s Law. Surely even the authors must be having a private laugh.

  15. …and Antarctic sea ice is what percentage of the total ocean surface

    Strange, we keep being reminded that the US is such a small percentage

  16. CO2 went from around 180 ppm (or less) during the Last Glacial Maximum to the so-called pre-industrial level of about 280 ppm (more or less) during the Holocene. Might be considered “massive” on a percentage basis, but still small compared to levels earlier in geologic history.

  17. I wonder where the animals that left their shells behind were living. If they were living on or near the surface and the shells only fell to the bottom after they died, is there not then a flaw in the study?

    • I think most plankton originate in polar waters and remain near the surface to live. They travel with surface currents toward the equator (Humboldt current). When they die, their organic matter (less dense than water) decays and the inorganic shell (more dense that water) sinks toward the bottom (the snow that is observed at depths). This occurs in warm tropical waters and not in the polar regions.

  18. Once again – and intentionally so – the question screaming to even be asked is not.
    WHAT CAUSED THE WARMING that CAUSED the ANTARCTIC SEA ICE TO MELT which in turn CAUSED the massive release of CO2?

    Is not the science settled? Does not CO2 CAUSE warming? How could their be warming which caused the sea ice to melt if the CO2 was released AFTER the initiation of sea ice melting?

  19. …All of the above comments are irrelevant to Glo.Bull warming because CO2 does not increase temperatures !!

    • …All of the above comments are irrelevant to Glo.Bull warming because CO2 does not increase temperatures !!

      I’m not sure how you can appear so confident about this. It’s clear from emission spectra plots that CO2 impedes the flow of outgoing LWIR radiation from the earth before it is emitted to space. Much of the energy which is emitted by CO2 is from the higher, COLDER layers of the atmosphere. If we add more CO2 to the atmosphere then more emission will take place at higher and COLDER layers which means the rate of emission will reduce (S-B Law). This would then result in an imbalance between incoming solar energy and outgoing LW energy. The surface and lower atmosphere would then need to warm so that equilibrium could be re-established.

      It’s basic thermodynamics. There could be some debate about exactly how much the earth would warm but virtually all “sceptical” scientists as well as “warmers” agree that the earth would be warmer with more CO2 than it would otherwise be.

      Incidentally your earlier comment about 5000 ppm is nonsense. 5000 ppm is only just over 4 doublings above pre-industrial CO2 levels and would certainly not cause the scale of heat you describe.

      • Yep… basic thermodynamics… in a LAB. Basic thermo is only one out of an unknown many processes occurring in the atmosphere. Warmers can’t get past basic thermo in the lab, can’t do reproducible experiments, and can’t get off the grant gravy train.

      • @ John Finn
        January 5, 2016 at 1:51 pm: Only in New Age Pseudoscience. In ‘normal’ atmospheres, it is always convection, never radiation, that carries most energy out to the tropopause. Where more CO2 could only increase emission. But water rules here, and also it has already taken those chunks in the spectra plots by pressure broadening/conduction and sent them out. The lack of a hot spot should be enough to end the debate, if only CAGW was based on scientific endeavour rather than dogma.
        In that basic thermodynamics, nothing heats itself. Don’t kid yourself.

  20. Something doesn’t sound quite right here. The cold ocean waters in polar areas are out of equilibrium with atmospheric CO2 in the direction of absorbing it – especially when atmospheric CO2 is increasing. Where these waters upwell later in warmer parts of the world and where they subsequently warm at the surface are where the oceans release CO2.

    One thing I think is possible: Melting polar ice reduces local salinity, and this reduces downwelling of the local cold waters. The waters in warmer parts of the world have their poleward flow reduced and warm up more.

  21. We know incremental CO2 has a minimal effect on the temperature, so what’s the big deal? It’s all just part of the fear mongering used to justify the existence and agenda of the IPCC.

    The only possible use for this ‘knowledge’ would be as an escape valve for the next ice age where we can blow up the Antarctic to put CO2 into the atmosphere and keep agriculture from crashing and the world from starving,

    If they really wanted to scare people with facts, rather than fantasy, they should talk about the inevitable catastrophe that will result from the next ice age. Of course, the truth doesn’t fit the narrative …

  22. I am not buying their theory:

    If this “massive” – but NOT named nor measured! – Antarctic Sea Ice Meltoff in the distant past led to a “massive” release of CO2 at the end of the last Ice Age, then a “large” melting of Antarctic Sea Ice in today’s world should lead to (at least!) a detectable CO2 release in today’s world.

    Conversely, a “large” sudden “freezing” of Antarctic sea ice in today’s world should lead to a detectable change in CO2 in today’s world.

    However, in today’s world, the “seasonal” changes in Antarctic sea ice have been changing. Further, these seasonal changes used to vary from 1.5 Mkm^2 at minimum in February up to 14-15 Mkm^2 in September. Quite a large change in itself, but we see only a small predictable change in CO2 levels that is (by “all” expert opinions at present – due entirely to the growth and fall of northern hemisphere leaves and plants. These “writers” of their Antarctic sea ice-CO2 meltoff need to explain what percent of today’s CO2 seasonal changes are due specifically to the yearly seasonal changes in Antarctic sea ice seen every year since the satellite records began in 1979.

    They have not apparently done this basic “back-check”.

    Worse, they need to explain how today’s truly “massive” “CO2-contradictory” Antarctic sea ice INCREASE since 1979 from a “average” minimum of 1.5 Mkm^2 up to today’s 2.5 to 3.0 Mkm^2 is “proved” by their theory to retain CO2 in the deep ocean at levels higher than in the earlier satellite sea ice years.
    At the other end of the sea ice season, they also need to establish by measurement (or comparision between “model results” of sea ice levels) that today’s much HIGHER maximum sea ice levels in September also retain CO2 at the expected/predicted increased rates – rates that should differ from the “usual” seasonal rises and drops due to northern hemisphere plant growth and death.

    But it is worse than that.

    If a “change from the Antarctic sea ice anomaly” is triggering the predicted “change in the retention of CO2 in the depths” that their theory predicts, then we should see a change in “measured daily/weekly/monthly CO2 anomaly levels” when Antarctic sea ice actually does change significantly.

    Well, in today’s world, several sudden 2 and 3 Mkm^2 changes in Antarctic sea ice did occur in the satellite record. Look at the Antarctic sea ice anomaly chart above again: In 1979-80-81, Antarctic sea ice dropped by 3.0 Mkm^2, rose back to +1.0, then dropped again back to -1.0 Mkmk^2. The writers should show either a corresponding change in CO2 anomalies, or show why such a change should NOT have occurred. (Sea surface and deep water circulation times, dwell times in their proposed cycle, lack of area, wrong area of sea ice growth and loss, wrong time of the month, or whatever.)

    But sudden large changes in sea ice (changes occurring over on a few months) happened again and again: 1985, 1988, 2005, 2009, 2011, 2015. There is no such change in CO2 levels.

    But. Consider that perhaps their theory needs a truly massive change. A sea ice minimum increasing from 1.5 Mkm^2 – not to 3.0 Mkm^2, but to 15 or 20 Mkm^2. A sea ice maxium increasing from today’s latitude 58 area of 16 Mkm^2 up to … 35 Mkm^2? 40 Mkm*2.

    If so, what is their evidence of how far the “Ice Age” southern ice edge was? Sea ice cannot leave morrains, nor carve valleys into the waves. Each seasonal maximum melts, and the “edge” of the melting has no rocks nor glacier debris carried from the land mass out that far from the coast. (Near the coast? Maybe something is visible under the undersea muck and buildup continuously dropping from above. But that is NOT the outer rim of the yearly sea ice edge!)

  23. Are they talking about the end of the last ice age, Karoo Ice Age which ended 250 million years ago or the last glacial period which ended about 12,000 years ago? We are living in an ice Age now, the Current Ice Age. Anyone?

    • I’m sure they mean the last NH glaciation of the present Cenozoic Ice Age or Ice House.

  24. Antarctic sea ice extent at the LGM, from 1998. For comparison, in the Tierra del Fuego region of South America, Cape Horn lies at 56°S and Punta Arenas at 53°S:

    We used modern analog technique applied to Antarctic diatoms to quantitatively reconstruct seasonal sea-ice extent at the Last Glacial Maximum. Winter maximum sea-ice limit occurred around 48°S in the Atlantic and western Indian sectors, around 55°S in the eastern Indian and western Pacific sectors, and around 58–60°S in the eastern Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean. Summer maximum sea-ice extents during the last ice age and today are similar, which contradicts CLIMAP’s findings. This implies a reduced summer albedo feedback of the Southern Hemisphere and a greater transfer of heat and moisture from the ocean to the atmosphere than shown by previous qualitative studies.

  25. Melting of massive ice ‘lid’ resulted in huge release of CO2 at the end of the ice age

    A new study reconstructing conditions at the end of the last ice age suggests that as the Antarctic sea ice melted, massive amounts of carbon dioxide that had been trapped in the ocean were released into the atmosphere.

    That pretty much debunks the theory that CO2 leads Temperature, and you would expect a rapid spike in the CO2, which you don’t find in the CO2 record.

    • Yup. The warming oceans naturally released more CO2, bumped up a little by the removal of “permanent” sea ice cover.

  26. “. . . and the community put two and two together and said . . .”

    Old joke. What is 2 + 2? {Feel free to replace lawyer with climate scientist.}
    The lawyer was interviewed last, and again the final question was, “How much is two plus two?” The lawyer drew all the shades in the room, looked outside to see if anyone was there, checked the telephone for listening devices, and then whispered, “How much do you want it to be?”

  27. @ Steven Mosher
    January 5, 2016 at 4:33 pm: re those supposed laws of physics Steven. If you are going to make such claims, please state them to us, and defend them. No, didn’t think so. Just another drive by shooting…..

  28. Holocene inception began about 22 kYa (thousand years ago) with Antarctica starting to warming. The NH at the same time slightly cooled. However at about 14 kYa the “Bolling-Allerod” (BA) happened, i.e. the NH abruptly warmed, as evidenced by Greenland cores. This caused a reciprocal pause and slight reversal in the (already long established) gradual Antarctic warming – the bipolar seesaw. In opposition to the BA, Antarctica went into cooling – the much studied “Antarctic reversal”. At the time of the BA there was a sharp rise in global sea level – 20 meters in 500 years. Weaver et al 2003 (link below) show that this was caused by a collapse of the gradually warming Antarctic ice sheet. The pulse of fresh meltwater from Antarctica had the effect of speeding up the AMOC and the gulf stream in the NH, bringing rapid warming to the NH and the BA.

    A basic oceanographic feature comparing the NH with the SH in the palaeo record is more fluctuation and instability in the NH and more stable, gradual changes in the SH. The nonlinear instability of the AMOC is the root of this. It is driven by the salinity positive feedback in the AMOC. Also, there is a clear signature of interhemispheric bipolar seesawing, whereby when the NH moves in one direction, the SH moves in another.

    The bipolar seesaw continued – the BA warming was shortlived. Down in the deep ocean, interactions between cold bottom water formed in the Antarctic and Arctic caused – about a thousand years later – an abrupt stoppage of the AMOC and the gulf stream. This ended the BA. In fact the cuplrit was Antarctic Intermediate water (AAIW) – see again Weaver et al. With the interruption of the gulf stream the NH went cold again – the Younger Dryas. In response – by now you get the picture – the Antarctic did the opposite and turned to gradual warming. After about 1000 years of NH cold with no gulf stream, the effect of the Antarctic collapse subsided allowing the AMOC and the gulf stream to resume. By now the gradual Antarctic warming was more or less complete, around 12 kYa. Warming at in the NH was completed at the same time by abrupt warming which terminated the YD. This marked the final end of the last glacial and the Beginning of the Holocene.

    O wait … scratch all that! It was all just due to CO2!
    No need to do science any more. Just need to learn to say “SEE OWE TOO”.

  29. Andy May – sample sea water below present ice and see if there is more CO2 -a great idea that would definitively settle the question but climate science doesn’t do data gathering. They make a model from their minds, run it on big computers and “sample data” from this universe instead.

    Crispin in Waterloo
    January 5, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    “”Earth Sciences who is also a member of the British Antarctic Survey. “However what we found was not what we were expecting to see.” Yeah, well then, it shows that earlier models and assumptions were and are contradicted by reality. Shades of most climate science. The idea that ice creates a cap surely has to be based on “keeping the water cold” not “a cap”.”

    Also, what caused the warming that ended the glacial period and warmed up the oceans so that the ice could melt and release CO2 (and why, then, should we care?). Are they saying that this caused the Holocene Climate Maximum (I don’t like the obfuscating term ‘optimum’ – it avoids saying warm in the same fashion as “pause” says resumption of warming is a year or few from now. The ‘pause’ was such a stressful load for them and their faithful that, regardless of optics and smell, they had to kill it. The experience of ‘Climategate’ taught them that Alinsky was correct, just keep lying and the pecadillos will be lost in time.)

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