JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Antarctic Sea Ice lowest in 40 years, but no one knows why — “back to drawing board”

Put it in a history book: scientists are sounding like scientists — admitting they don’t understand

Antarctic Sea Ice set records in 2014, but then in 2016 it rapidly declined and hasn’t recovered, indeed right now as the southern winter peaks, it’s at a record low. The long term trend is still rising, but its now only half the rate it was in 2014. On this blog, Mike Jonas recently demonstrated that the Southern Ocean had cooled, not warmed as all the models predicted. But what matters here is that sea ice covers 7% of the world and we don’t know what caused it.

What is also a record is that most scientists and journalists are showing real restraint and are not blaming this as a climate change event.

Even, bowl-me-over, New Scientist, is showing admirable restraint: Antarctic sea ice is declining dramatically and we don’t know why. This is the first time since starting this blog ten years ago that I have been able to say that. Congrats Adam Vaughan.

Decades of expanding sea ice in Antarctica have been wiped out by three years of sudden and dramatic declines, leaving scientist puzzled as to why the region [...]

Panic time: a tiny 0.01% of Antarctica, resting on volcanoes, melts five times faster than nothing

Let this go down as a prime example of Big Meaningless Numbers used to scare you:

Antarctica’s ice melts five times faster than usual Ben Webster – The Times  (copied at The Australian)

Antarctica has lost an area of ice the size of Greater London since 2010 as warmer ocean water erodes its floating edge, a study has found. Overall about 1,463 sq km of Antarctica’s underwater ice melted between 2010 and 2016.

What does 1,463 fewer square kilometers of ice mean?

The findings suggest that melting glaciers on the continent could add significantly to long-term sea level rises, with severe implications for thousands of coastal towns and cities.

Your house might wash away. Or not. How close to zero can a number be and still be “a number”?

The total area of Antarctic sea ice averages about 11 million square kilometers. So that’s one part in 7,500 that melted or 0.013%. But volume is what matters and the percentage of volume that melted is even smaller. Let’s assume ice volume was lost to a depth of one kilometer (the depth of the “grounding line” where the ice-sheet meets the earth). The giant Antarctic Ice Sheet [...]

Antarctic Sea Ice record high — 600,000km2 more than previous record

Despite all the “missing heat” hiding somewhere in the oceans, the extent of the Antarctic Sea Ice today is at a record high of 16.8 million square kilometers. In the Southern Hemisphere the record is 600,000 square kilometers more than has ever been recorded by satellites which began tracking the sea-ice extent in 1979 when CO2 was 336ppm. Atmospheric carbon dioxide has risen 20% globally since then and current global sea ice extent is slightly above than the average from 1978 -2008. The previous largest extent was 16.22 million km2 in 2012. This may not be the peak this year. Watch the chart with me this week.

The Antarctic Sea Ice usually reaches its annual peak the week after the Spring Equinox. Though it may peak as late as October 9th, as it did last year.

(Click to see the whole graph)

Source: Cryosphere

[...]

Third icebreaker abandons rescue of climate scientists boat in Antarctica, media fog, obscure, don’t say “climate”

LATEST NEWS: Aurora Australis abandons attempt to save Akademik Shokalskiy in Antarctica. The SMH headline could’ve said “Another icebreaker abandons attempt to save climate scientist’s boat in Antarctica.” UPDATE: Russia says 54 of 74 passengers to be helicoptered off if weather permits. (h/ tPeter Miller) The Polar Star icebreaker has left from the US to come help. It will take 8 -9 days to arrive. (Guardian)

Welcome to Media-Sport, where we score points watching a part of the media dance around the hysterical folly of an Antarctic climate science expedition trapped in sea ice for six nights (and counting). The Art of Propaganda is not just in the telling of one-sided lines, but is crafted through parts left unsaid.

More global warming, it is everywhere you look. View from Akademik Shokalskiy

With three ice-breaker rescue ships trying to reach them, the latest news is that the scientists and media entourage may have to abandon ship and be helicoptered to safety (though right now even that is not possible due to the very rough weather).  The ABC news home page at time of posting this has zero references to “Antarctica”, but does say there are cracks in ice around a [...]

Antarctic sea ice still at record high — where is springtime melt?

Whatever happened to polar amplification?

The oceans are apparently warming, and yet the sea-ice abounds in the Southern Hemisphere. A new record was set at 19.57 million square kilometers of ice [NSIDC-nrt], around one million more than the usual amount. (Yesterday ice covered 19.11m km2).

 Source:  http://iup.physik.uni-bremen.de:8084/amsr2/

National Snow and Ice Data Center Web site. Records date back to October 1978. NSIDC  also has a similar graph of daily sea-ice-extent.

The size of the sea-ice surrounding Antarctica is spectacular. We can just see the outline of the landmass here to appreciate just how much of the Southern Hemisphere is covered with sea-ice right now.

[...]

Antarctic Sea Ice hits another record: 900,000 square kilometers above average

Antarctic Sea Ice has hit it’s 23rd daily record for the year. (Thanks to Sunshine Hours for tracking these things.)

2013 is the red line.  (click to enlarge)

In terms of the number of daily records in a year, the Big Year for sea-ice was 2008 where records occurred on 125 days. 2010 was nearly as “big” when records occurred on 118 days. 2013 is currently in  fifth spot. If the tally rises to 28 records this year, it will leap to third place.

Not that any of this matters, of course.

“Sea ice in the Arctic and around Antarctica responds directly to climate change and may, if properly monitored, become increasingly important for detecting climate change.”

IPCC Third Assessment Report, Cryosphere Processes, Box 7.1

 

[...]

Antarctic sea ice trends at record highs. Fears for shrinking southern ocean, right?

While stories of the Arctic record fall in sea-ice have been all over the news, all over the world, it’s almost as if the Southern Hemisphere didn’t exist. Right now, this week apparently, the sea ice is at or near record highs (bearing in mind that we’re still only talking 30 years of satellite records, but then, these are the same satellites lapping over the arctic, and if the records are longer there, I expect it’s only by an hour and a half).

 

h/t Steve Goddard who asks when the National Snow & Ice Data Centre ( NSIDC) will send out the press releases. They appear to be more concerned about the effects of the Antarctic “thinning” trend on penguins this week. Sunshine hours has graphed it in detail.

Cryosphere compares the relentless fall and rise of Antarctic ice here. Millions of square kilometers in staggering, dramatic melts every spring manage to return in staggering dramatic ice formations each and every year.

(Click to enlarge)

I expect that our non-hemispherist unbiased and diligent newspapers will be running with matching ones very soon. Based on news stories like this:

[...]

Be afraid — melting sea ice causes infinitesimal sea level rise!

Thanks to the NSF for the image of sea ice in the Bering Sea

New Scientist doesn’t have enough column space to tell you that Briffa’s Yamal tree ring series depends heavily on just one freak 8-standard deviation tree in Northern Russia, and that multiple temperature reconstructions use that highly dubious series, but they do have time to warn the world about the effect of melting sea-ice on global sea levels.

If you want to see the Climate Debate discussed from both sides, see a real debate, and contrast it to the irrelevant minutiae of propaganda pushed by magazines like New Scientist.

Melting icebergs boost sea-level rise

Because sea ice is fresh water, it has a lower density than salty ocean water, so even though floating ice won’t raise water levels by melting, the fresh water in the ice blocks can apparently make a small difference. “Small” being the word.

“…they estimate that about 746 cubic kilometres of ice are melting each year, overall. The ice melting is diluting the oceans, decreasing its density and raising sea levels as a consequence,” says Shepherd.

Watch out for that extra twentieth of a millimetre. Literally 0.049 mm per year.

Imagine, [...]

Missing Climate Headlines from May 2009

Undoubtedly the best summary of the current state of affairs is the SPPI monthly CO2 report. The April report contains news that—if there was a free and high quality media—would have generated headlines like these (well, sort of—you get the idea).

Any investigative journalist who was doing their job only had to Google for the other side of the story. I’m not saying those journalists have to agree with us, just that, at the moment most environmental writers think ‘balanced’ means saying, “The world will cook: the question is, lightly toasted OR totally pan-fried’.

Here’s the counter summary of the headlines we didn’t see, accompanied by an analysis you probably won’t see anywhere else.

Planet Unmoved by IPCC Forecast

Despite the power of the authority vested in the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), The Planet appears to be unswayed by the large well funded international bureaucracy, and is similarly immune to following the collected wisdom of the software engineers who compress it’s 1100 billion cubic kilometers of complexity into a PC.

[...]