the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Antarctic sea ice – 2nd highest (Anomaly) in satellite records

Posted by Jeff Id on June 26, 2014


Antarctic sea ice extent- posted 6-26-14

Antarctic sea ice posting 2nd highest anomaly since satellite records began.  In the Antarctic continent on the bottom of the planet where apparently hot is cold and cold is hot.   😀

Is anyone else surprised at the nearly monotonic increase in the past several years.   Don’t worry alarmists, the trend will change someday.





47 Responses to “Antarctic sea ice – 2nd highest (Anomaly) in satellite records”

  1. And they still have a couple of months to go in the season, right? Probably be a record before the spring thaw sets in.

  2. amac78 said

    For reference, here’s the comparable graph of the Northern Hemisphere Sea Ice Anomaly, from Cryosphehere Today. At this writing, that anomaly is given as -1.123 million sq. km.

  3. HaroldW said

    Your caption says that the graph portrays the Antarctic sea ice extent anomaly, but according to this page, it’s the area anomaly.

    Speaking of which, I can find daily estimates of sea ice extent, and monthly estimates for area. UIUC produces a graph with daily area values — do you know where the underlying data can be found?

  4. Rob R said

    1.827 million km2 anomaly around Antarctica today. It can not stay so high for long and is unlikely to see much coverage in the press.

  5. kuhnkat said

    The trend will change some day?!?!?! What kind of heresy are you speaking skeptic?!?!?!

  6. Bill H. said

    You might like to try comparing the changes in sea ice volume

    Antarctic sea ice is estimated to have increased at a rate of 30 cubic km per year over the 1992-2010 period. (😉

    Arctic sea ice volume has decreased at an average of the order of 400 cubic km per year (

    In other words the evidence is that changes in the quantity of antarctic sea ice during the satellite era are insignificant compared with those in the arctic. You, the Honourable Monckton of Brenchley and various others are comparing apples and oranges when you claim that the Antarctic gain somehow “balances” the Arctic loss. The data clearly indicate that the planet is rapidly losing sea ice.

    What puzzles me is why you are using spurious lines of evidence to claim otherwise – hardly a skeptical (in the original sense of the word) approach.

    • Your arctic chart says volume is dropping at 1000 km3 per decade = 100 km3 per year (not 400) .

      It also shows a relatively flat trend from 2008.

      The antarctic reference is to a model up to 2010. 2012 and 2013 are when Antarctic all time maximum records were set. And there is a fair chance of a 3rd in a row,

      Currently (for this day) Antarctic Sea Ice Extent is 2,000,000 sq km above 1992. If it was meter thick that would be 2,000 km3 more than 1992 (ignoring any increase in thickness for the other 13,000,000 sq km)

      That would be 160 km3 more per year.

      • Bill H. said


        The (1000 km per decade) is the unit while the -3.0 is the value expressed in those units. Thus the trend given on the graph is -3 x 1000 km per decade, or -300 cubic km per year. As for the 400 per year, this is my conservative estimate for the 1992-2010 period which is the period over which Holland et al. estimated the rate for antarctic sea ice increase. Having accused Jeff and The Noble Viscount of an erroneous comparison I have done my best to ensure an accurate comparison. Over this time, as you can see for yourself if you examine the graph, the anomaly changed from +3 to -6, i.e. -9000 cubic km per year. Dividing by 18 years this would give 500 per year, but, as I say I was being conservative and reduced this to 400, more than 10 times as high.

        As for your final two paragraphs, I cannot fault your logic but your assumption of 1 m thickness seems to be without any foundation. Apart from anything else, the thickness is constantly changing since about 80% of the maximum winter ice area melts completely during the summer.

        I have provided references for my claims. Can you provide any for yours?

        • This average PIOMASS volume since 2007.

          2007 15508
          2008 16604
          2009 16119
          2010 14525
          2011 13710
          2012 13549
          2013 14402

          1100 / 6 = less than 200 per year.

          The trend has changed for the Arctic. But the Antarctic has been climbing and setting new record.

          From 2008: “The long-term mean and standard deviation of total Antarctic sea ice thickness is 0.87 ± 0.91 m.”

          Click to access worbyetal_ThicknessDistributionofAntarcticSeaIce_JGR_113_C05S92_2008.pdf

          Do I know the ice is 1m thick? No. Is 1m a fair guess? Yes,

          • Bill H. said

            Sunsh, Thanks for the reference – I’ll have a look at it later.

            As for your “trend” from 2007 to 2013, it’s not actually a trend at all since you’ve discarded most of the data to calculate it. To get a trend you need to use a least squares fit of all seven points. Don’t worry it’s simple to implement with Excel (use the LInest function) or similar. If you do you will find that the trend is actually 423 cubic meters per year. What you’ve apparently done is to arbitrarily select two years. Be careful: a cynic might say that this isn’t arbitrary but deliberate cherry picking.

            (Oh dear, that last sentence looks as if it could have been penned by Andrew Montford – I must spend less time on Bishop Hill)

          • Bill, trends change. There was trend change around 2007/2008.


    • Jeff Id said

      “You, the Honourable Monckton of Brenchley and various others are comparing apples and oranges when you claim that the Antarctic gain somehow “balances” the Arctic loss. ”

      It is a big blog but where did I make this claim or any other you have attributed to me?

      • Bill H. said


        One instance of the claim is made in one of the posts you referenced:

        Specifically: “You can worry about the polar bears and penguins if you want but as far as melting ice caps…. not happening.”

        Strictly speaking your use of the term “ice cap” is incorrect – it refers to land ice – but I’ll pass over that. The point is that if the volume of global sea ice is declining rapidly that means there is a very large net melt.

        • Global Sea Extent is about 500,000 sq km above the 1981-2010 mean today.

        • Jeff Id said

          How does this quote support your false accusations?

          • Bill H. said

            Um, well, if we are agreed, and I think we are, that the arctic has been losing sea ice at a very significant rate over the last few decades then the only way that polar sea ice as a whole could not be melting as you asserted is if the volume of ice at the antarctic were increasing at the same rate. I have provided peer reviewed references that indicate that this has definitely not been the case over the time of the satellite era.

          • Bill H. said

            Oh, and Jeff, there’s no need to exaggerate: if you read what I’ve written you’ll I’ve only made one accusation against you, not the “accusations” you assert.

          • Jeff Id said

            “Oh, and Jeff, there’s no need to exaggerate: if you read what I’ve written you’ll I’ve only made one accusation against you, not the “accusations” you assert.”

            Bill, — You are perfectly able to to read.

            “you claim that the Antarctic gain somehow “balances” the Arctic loss”
            ” you are using spurious lines of evidence to claim otherwise”
            ” hardly a skeptical (in the original sense of the word) approach.”

            Every bit of that is bs so perhaps I’m wrong and that somehow counts as a single accusation. So why is it that whenever someone attacks me for being an advocate or unscientific, they themselves are the ones making fabricated claims.

            Actually, I don’t agree that the Arctic has been losing ice at a “very” significant rate. We did see a shift in sea ice pattern that resulted in a lower level of annual sea ice but even the most recent peer reviewed literature doesn’t typically link that to temperature change. I don’t even understand the argument that somehow the ice is lost! It is cold water, nothing else. It didn’t really go away Bill. The oldest stuff is only a few years old anyway and the nonsense spoken to the press about the health of the sea ice is nothing but advocacy language to confuse the public into sending money or agreeing with political “solutions”.

            The same is true in the Antarctic where a recent pattern change caused a sudden and pretty interesting increase in sea ice. Therefore, I do want to point out that in general the Arctic plus Antarctic interpreted with a less emotional eye than you have shown does lend a little balance to the discussion.

            My guess is that even with continued warming we will see a “recovery” pattern change within our lifetimes. Even an apparently unlikely additional degree C of warming nin that timeframe wouldn’t be enough to prevent that. The only problem with my prediction being that we don’t know just how often the pattern change occurs. Why people are so emotional about it changing is beyond me.

            The story Bill is that your volume based claims of sea doom or very significant loss are simply advocacy talking points with little foundation in the science. The changes we’ve been able to detect are scientifically cool, but just not that exciting.

    • Jeff Id said

      Ya know Bill, that is one of the reasons I don’t blog as much. I’m tired of the silly, way off base, attacks simply for posting the data. You have literally accused me of all kinds of positions I don’t hold — because I posted the Antarctic ice area. Just because this doesn’t support the alarmist position doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It is a valid region of Earth which seems quite pertinent to a rational minded person when considering global temperature change. I would even suggest that sea ice area is certainly a better proxy for warming trends than trees, mollusks, ice cores or glaciers.

      So lets talk about “volume” of lost ice.

      The antarctic has no sea at the pole of the planet. The volume cannot make up for the Arctic because there is less poleward water. The ice melts nearly 100% every year in the Antarctic so there is no real potential for multi-year thick ice. It leaves me wondering just why would volume matter you you? Additionally, why would making up for the volume lost in the Arctic compared to the Antarctic matter to anyone? Well anyone not selling the global warming doom program anyway.

      Because of this I would suggest that a volume comparison would be a scientifically less informative representation of the amount of warming the planet has experienced. In fact if I found that on a blog somewhere, I might come out of my happy blog-retreat just to write a post mocking them.

      That doesn’t change the fact that Antarctic Sea ice is increasing rather interestingly over the last few years. I didn’t predict it, did you?

      I would suggest you relax a little and realize that because global warming has not occurred as projected, a very large and important region of the planet is generally increasing in its sea ice level. Because it melts every year, next year could bring a huge drop in the Antarctic, we don’t know, but at least you would settle down about it.

      • Not 100% … about 80%

        The 4 highest minimums:

        2014 3.51506
        2003 3.62570
        2013 3.67897
        2008 3.69176

      • Bill H. said

        Jeff, you wrote:

        Because of this I would suggest that a volume comparison would be a scientifically less informative representation of the amount of warming the planet has experienced. In fact if I found that on a blog somewhere, I might come out of my happy blog-retreat just to write a post mocking them.

        This is just bizarre. If the planet is warming one of the expected effects would be global sea ice melt, the inevitable consequence of which would be loss of volume. A possible secondary consequence might be loss of area, but since, for example, a 1000 x 1000 x 1 m ice sheet has a larger area than a 500 x 500 x 10 m ice sheet, it is only a possibility. Yet you regard the latter as a better proxy for global warming, and regard anyone who says otherwise with contempt worthy of mockery.

        • Bill, Global Sea Ice has been mostly positive for the last year. Why so sad about it? Should you be celebrating.

          As for sea ice volume … the trend for Arctic is approaching 0 ice loss and I’m sure the trend for Antarctic is way up. All things to celebrate.

          Yay. The end of the world is not near!

        • Jeff Id said

          I would expect both area and volume to decrease with temperature rise – on the whole globe. We see a decrease right? We have a temperature rise right? What is the problem?

          What I find ridiculous is that you are now arguing for “volume” as a proper measure. It’s not credible Bill, for the reasons I’ve already mentioned. IF and it is a big IF, you were going to make the claim that the balance of the poles means that warming is/isn’t occurring, area or extent are clearly better proxies for the magnitude of the problem as one pole melts away completely due to the fact that land covers the cold part so their ain’t no sea ice there. Area and extent have the same problems but the difference between poles is minimized as they are quickly altered by cold air over the water surface. They are also comprised of much better measurements than volume – FYI.

          BTW, I’ve had people bitch here because I dared to publish the sum of both poles – as ridiculous as that is. I think Tamino was one of them maybe you were too, I don’t remember.

          My point was that I have NOT made that argument. You have imagined it, accused me and convicted me of it. It’s your own strawman that exists only in your own head.

          • Bill H. said

            OK, Jeff, I admit it: you haven’t made “that argument”. Indeed the rambling nature of the second paragraph of your most recent contribution (supposedly a refutation of my claim) makes me realise that you offer nothing that could be recognised as a coherent argument.

            Your optimism about the Antarctic is nevertheless without foundation since, as the Holland et al. paper I referenced points out, any gain in sea ice is out-weighed by loss of land ice (see also the GRACE satellite website on this trend and the papers of Velicogna referenced therein). Incidentally, this latter phenomenon was not predicted by the majority of models, which indicated that the Antarctic land ice would remain constant or even increase despite increasing global temperatures. We can therefore agree on one thing: climate model predictions aren’t always realised.

            Adieu, Bill

          • Jeff Id said

            Unfortunately, I answered above with another explanation before I realized you are leaving. Read more is my advice, and perhaps look at the data yourself rather than rely on what others think

          • Kenneth Fritsch said

            Nic Lewis has commented several times at other blogs and perhaps this one on a published mechanism that could explain the recent loss of Antarctica land ice due to changing deep ocean currents and deep water that was influenced by temperatures that as I recall were on the order of a thousand years ago. We also have the recent studies of volcanic influence in West Antarctica land ice loss which was discussed at the Blackboard recently.

            I think it is important to keep in mind mechanisms for these phenomenon and particularly where, on the face of it, you have the conflicting trends in Antarctica sea ice extent and the slippage of land ice into the ocean.

          • Jeff Id said

            I’m not convinced yet that the Antarctic is losing ice as a whole. Is there some information which you found compelling?

          • Kenneth Fritsch said

            JeffID, I think Bill H has left the thread. I think the thrust of the discussion about the Antarctica should be attempting to understand the mechanism for sea ice extent and land ice loss/gain and whether we are looking at a reoccurring pattern/cycle from the past or can the mechanism be related to the recent global warming.

  7. Bill H. said

    I notice that WordPress seems to have inserted some dumb emoticon into my posting. I had not intended this.

  8. HaroldW said

    The original post noted “Antarctic sea ice posting 2nd highest anomaly since satellite records began.” While I still haven’t located the archive of daily area anomaly (to determine the highest value), I note that today’s Antarctic sea ice area anomaly is +2.074 million sq. km., clearly ahead of the prior record. (From )

    Bill H. raised the question of whether sea ice area or volume is a more telling metric. The main climatological influence seems to be the positive feedback due to the lower albedo of the ocean as compared to that of ice — remember the “death spiral”? Hence, ice area would be the more important metric. Actually, an insolation-weighted metric would be more interesting — but that metric would be small during local winter regardless of the ice area. The current Antarctic anomaly, for example, does not account for a proportional change in energy balance; the prior anomaly maximum which looks to have been in Dec 2007 would likely remain in first place using insolation weighting.

    • Jeff Id said

      I was posting my update when you wrote this. Thanks Harold.

      Climatologically, area or extent are more appropriate measures although even they are simply thumbnail style checks for extreme climate change. I used to prefer area but there are valid measurement based reasons for extent based calculation, now I don’t believe there is any real difference between the two.

      I’m not following the insolation argument could you explain further?

      • Jeff Id said

        I mean I think I get what you are saying but I’m a little confused about the 07 maximum being in first place.

      • HaroldW said

        If you subdivide the surface into regions indexed by i, the sea ice area anomaly for day d is
        SIAA(d) = SUM(over i) { A(i)*( C(i,d) – C0(i,d*) ) }
        A(i) is the area of region i
        C(i,d) is the sea ice concentration for region i during day d
        C0(i,d*) is the baseline concentration for the day of the year corresponding to d (d*).

        The contribution to energy balance due to the sea ice, is proportional (see caveat below) to
        SUM { A(i)*( C(i,d) – C0(i,d*) )*I(i,d*)*(alpha_water-alpha_ice) }
        alpha_water & alpha_ice are the albedos of water & ice resp.
        I(i,d*) is the mean insolation during day of the year d* at the latitude of cell i

        All I was trying to get at, is that the the Antarctic anomaly today, while a record number of square meters, has a relatively insignificant effect in terms of energy balance, because the insolation at 60S latitude is around 0.5 kWh/m^2 per day at the June solstice. By comparison, the earlier peak anomaly in Dec 2007 mattered more in terms of energy, because the insolation at 60S is around 12 kWh/m^2 on the December solstice.

        Caveat: The formula for energy balance should also take account of cloudiness. To the extent that sunlight is reflected out from clouds, the surface albedo doesn’t matter. See, e.g. Hudson’s calculation of the sea ice albedo effect in the Arctic.

        • Jeff Id said

          Interesting, I didn’t realize the previous peak was in December.

        • Kenneth Fritsch said

          HaroldW said

          Caveat: The formula for energy balance should also take account of cloudiness. To the extent that sunlight is reflected out from clouds, the surface albedo doesn’t matter. See, e.g. Hudson’s calculation of the sea ice albedo effect in the Arctic.

          That is an important point. If one uses anomaly changes and can assume that the cloudiness has not changed appreciably over the seasons and during the period of interest it could be neglected. As I recall there are conflicting papers on whether the cloudiness has changed in the Arctic. I believe cloudiness can be estimated using AVHHR or MSU, but the question is how accurately and completely can it be accomplished. JeffID should know how the AVHRR cloud mask was determined as that was part of the O’Donnell et al 2010 paper of which he coauthored.

  9. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Bill H assumes a linear regression slope to obtain the trend from Sunshinehour’s data. If you have no prior knowledge of the shape of a trend line I would think that the difference divided by years as reported by Sunshinehours would be more appropriate. Jeff ID threw out some findings on sea ice extent trends and Bill H countered with sea ice volume. We can discuss what all this means in polite and studious manner.

    I have some interests in determining the mechanism(s) for the Arctic polar amplification of temperature change and how much of this can be attributed to albedo feedback. In my analysis I cannot find an albedo feedback effect, but I did find that the ice extent varies in nearly a straight line with the Arctic polar temperature anomaly over the past 3 plus decades. I was much surprised to find in searching for published papers on the Arctic polar amplification mechanism how little is definitely known or agreed upon. Of further interest to me was that during the recent global pause in warming that the lower latitudes have shown little to no warming but the Arctic region and particularly above 65N has shown accelerated warming. Where that heat is coming if one cannot evoke a large albedo feedback is a puzzle to me. If one uses the Cowtan Way temperature data set, where the Arctic warms even faster in recent years than in the other commonly used data sets, this puzzle is even greater. I was also surprised to see how much that the Arctic region, small as it is compared to the total global area, can contribute to the mean global warming.

    Obviously the melting ice implies warming and freezing sea implies cooling, but it is the long term mechanism for the changes that is of the greater interest -at least to me. I have not found or expect to find much on a mechanism for the increasing sea ice extent in the Antarctica but that might be a good discussion here. .

    • Jeff Id said

      I would be interested in seeing your temp/extent plot. Is it hard to dig up?

      • Kenneth Fritsch said

        I’ll look it up and link to it here in a day or so.

      • Kenneth Fritsch said

        Jeff, here is a link to the graph of average monthly Arctic sea Ice extent from 1979-2012 and the mean annual temperature from the Cowtan Way hybrid data set for the region 70N-90N. I calculated an R^2=0.86. I used the region temperature most associated with the sea ice in the Arctic.

        • Jeff Id said

          Wow that is interesting. I’m not familiar with the Cowtan Way data. Where did it come from?

          • Kenneth Fritsch said

            Cowtan Way have come out with new method for compiling temperature data sets using kriging to infill missing data and in some cases as in the hybrid method use of UAH satellite data to infill data by way of spatial correlation much in the manner used by O’Donnell et al ( 2010) in the Antarctica used AVHRR and ground stations for infilling. Their methods were discussed at Judith Curry’s Climate Etc. and Lucy’s Blackboard last year

            The reason I used their data set is because it was unique in attempting to infill the Arctic (and Antarctic) regions. It gives a much accelerated warming rate in the Arctic region over the past several years such that the Arctic polar amplification during that period exceeds that of the other commonly used data sets. HadCRU does not even attempt to measure the Arctic zone while GISS attempts to infill from further away and using different data than Cowtan Way
            I became interested in the proposition that the Arctic could continue to warm at an accelerated rate as indicated by Cowtan Way while the lower latitudes are warming little or not at all. I know that heat is transported to the poles from the lower latitudes where net heat generation minus heat radiated to space is a positive and the reverse is the case at the poles.

          • Jeff Id said

            Thanks for the graph and info Kenneth. Blogs are more fun when you learn something.

    • Kneel said

      “…I did find that the ice extent varies in nearly a straight line with the Arctic polar temperature anomaly over the past 3 plus decades.”

      Would be interesting to know which is cause and which effect.

  10. Kenneth Fritsch said

    “I’m not following the insolation argument could you explain further?”

    I found what HaroldW refers to here as critical to my analysis of sea ice albedo feedback and that is that when the ice extent is largest(smallest) the insolation tends to be the smallest (largest) – with some lag, of course. I used a product of insolation weighted by latitude and the sea ice extent in my model. It is also interesting that it is the autumn and winter months that show the largest warming in the Arctic and presumably because the heat from the sea water warmed during the summer months can more readily escape to the air above the ice. .

  11. craigm350 said

    co2 causes EVERYTHING. Now that we have that clear may I suggest we all panic and commit suicide to preempt planetary catastrophe by acting like the head of the IPCC? Oh wait…..;-)

    In the meantime I’ll just watch as the planet does what it does after warm periods (focused on the poles)…coooooling

  12. Brian H said

    Given the low incidence angles at the poles, maybe albedo variations of of small consequence.

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