16 November 2012

Antarctic sea ice in 2012 has reached record levels. Record HIGH levels.

The information and the image come from NASA's Earth Observatory, which also offers this scatter plot depicts the relevant data from the past 30 years:

It's likely that this information will be used, rightly and wrongly, in the debate about climate change.  Here's an excerpt of the discussion at the NASA link:
Two weeks after a new record was set in the Arctic Ocean for the least amount of sea ice coverage in the satellite record, the ice surrounding Antarctica reached its annual winter maximum—and set a record for a new high... The yellow outline shows the median sea ice extent in September from 1979 to 2000. Sea ice extent is defined as the total area in which the ice concentration is at least 15 percent.

The graph of NSIDC data shows the maximum extent for each September since 1979 in millions of square kilometers. There is a lot of variability from year to year, though the overall trend shows growth of about 0.9 percent per decade...

“The year 2012 continues a long-term contrast between the two hemispheres, with decreasing sea ice coverage in the Arctic and increasing sea ice coverage in the Antarctic,” Parkinson added. “Both hemispheres have considerable inter-annual variability, so that in either hemisphere, next year could have either more or less sea ice than this year. Still, the long-term trends are clear, but not equal: the magnitude of the ice losses in the Arctic considerably exceed the magnitude of the ice gains in the Antarctic.”


  1. Is it ok for me to feel happy about this? It is a good thing, I think. --A.

  2. The news on television out here in Australia sometimes includes stories that strongly give the impression that glaciers are melting in Antarctica just as they are in the Arctic, directly contradicting this Nasa report. Perhaps the glaciers are not so much melting and flowing into the ocean as water; instead huge quantities of ice are breaking off from glaciers, en masse, and forming large areas of "ice cubes", floating in the ocean next to the land. The result would be a greater area of water covered by a thinner layer of ice which, when observed by satellites, gives a false impression that the total cubic amount of ice has increased. Noting that in the "photo" there is NO ice on the actual land surface makes me wonder if anything else in this image has been digitally doctored. Who to trust? Nasa?

    During the recent election, both sides made a lot of noise about reducing America's dependence on foreign oil by increasing its use of various fossil fuels. What better time to produce such an image: surely if the ice is actually increasing, we needn't reduce our use of fossil fuels. I was heartened to hear President Obama also talk of the need for also developing non-fossil fuel sources of energy.

  3. Too much of that ice could be really bad ...read up on albedo effect.

  4. There is a difference going on here. Yep, that is ice forming, but it is probably sea ice that is forming. Land ice is still melting in fast numbers. For more defination, check out this site: http://www.skepticalscience.com/antarctica-gaining-ice.htm

  5. Climate change. Is it real? Definitely. Is it human-caused? No idea. Do we understand the climate even remotely well enough to say for certain either way? Nope. Not even close.

    Let's be real; stop doing stuff we intentionally know is stupid (pollution and so forth), and also stop fearmongering when we don't have the slightest idea whether climate change is something we even have any influence on.

    1. "...whether climate change is something we even have any influence on."

      Are you perhaps aware that the "ozone hole" over Antarctica has essentially closed? It was created by human activity (chlorofluorocarbons), and was corrected by worldwide legislation restricting the use of those compounds.

      The ozone hole doesn't have a significant effect on climate (to my knowledge), but the parallels in human activity affecting world "biology" is food for thought.


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