Averaging together antarctic and arctic sea ice hides an important truth

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:37 PM GMT on January 15, 2009

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Since my last post designating arctic sea ice loss as the top climate story of 2008, I've heard a lot comments like this one: "Jeff, you just can't seem to understand the that man-made global warming is a fable and complete hoax. In all that blathering about the falsified IPCC reports and the study of the arctic ice sheet, you somehow neglected to mention that the ice recovered not only what it lost last year, but is now larger than the previous known record measured in 1978".

Well, I can understand this point of view, given complexity of the climate change issue, and the large amount of conflicting information one sees in the media. Let's look at the facts about global sea ice. You can look at the data yourself at the excellent University of Illinois Cryosphere Today web site. Reliable sea ice records go back to 1979, when satellite measurements began. Antarctic sea ice reached its greatest extent on record during the winter of 2007. Summertime ice coverage also increased in 2007-2008 compared to 2006 levels (Figure 1). However, as one can see from Figure 1, there is high variability in antarctic sea ice from winter to summer, and antarctic sea ice can best be described as having stayed constant since 1979 (as stated in the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC did find that there had been a significant decline in arctic sea ice, in all seasons, between 1979-2006. Despite this decline, there have been three periods during the past two years when the sum of the arctic and antarctic sea ice was the same or even higher than it was at the start of the satellite era (1979). An article published January 1 on Daily Tech noted that "global sea ice levels now equal those seen 29 years ago". This was pretty close to the truth on December 31, 2008, despite the fact that arctic ice was 1 million km^2 below 1979 levels, since antarctic ice was 0.5 million km^2 above 1979 levels. Although arctic sea ice extent has steadily declined since 1979, especially in summer, this decline is not as great during the winter months. One can find periods in winter when summing together antarctic and arctic sea ice area makes it appear that arctic sea ice loss is no big deal.

However, this is the wrong way to look at the issue. We don't care much about global sea ice in winter. We care about arctic sea ice in the summer. Sharp declines in summertime arctic ice are likely to cause significant and damaging alterations to Earth's climate. Cleverly quoting irrelevant facts about global wintertime sea ice data to hide the summertime loss of arctic sea ice is a tremendous disservice. It's like hiding the potential impact of a major hurricane in a one-week forecast by saying, "the average peak wind speed for the next seven days will be 17 mph", and neglecting to mention that the wind will be calm six of those days, but 120 mph on the other day. The loss of arctic sea ice the past two summers, is, in my view, the most important human-caused climate change event yet--even more significant and dangerous than the opening of the antarctic ozone hole in the 1980s. It's great that we're not seeing loss of sea ice in Antarctica. But, both the Antarctic and the Arctic can be thought of as important internal organs in our living Earth. The fact that the Antarctic has not undergone significant warming and sea ice loss in no way diminishes the urgency with which climate scientists view the diseased state of our Arctic. Fully 88 presentations on arctic sea ice were made last month at the world's largest scientific climate change conference, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in San Francisco. None of these scientists averaged together the arctic and antarctic sea ice together to show that the overall state of Earth's cryosphere was a healthy one. There was widespread concern for the health of the Arctic among all the scientists I spoke with, and none of the speakers at the talks I attended expressed the idea that the recent melting of arctic sea ice was predominantly natural, with human-caused climate change an insignificant factor. One view (Stroeve et al., 2007) is that human-emitted greenhouse gases are responsible for 47-57% of the arctic sea ice loss since 1979. Heat-absorbing black soot from fires and pollution settling on the white ice is thought to also be a significant contributor.


Figure 1. Antarctic sea ice area as observed via satellite since 1978. The maximum area in winter has ranged between 14-16 million square kilometers, about the same amount of ocean that the Arctic ice covers in winter. However, the antarctic sea ice almost entirely melts away in summer, something the Arctic sea ice does not do (yet). Antarctica is a huge continent that rises thousands of feet above the ocean. It holds about 90% of the world's fresh water, locked up in its massive ice cap. The presence of such a titanic block of ice at the bottom of the world completely dominates the weather and climate of the region, and the year-to-year fluctuations of sea ice don't have a lot of impact on temperatures there. Image credit: University of Illinois Cryosphere Today.

What is the current state of Antarctic climate?
At the December 2008 AGU meeting, scientists gave Antarctica a mixed bill of health. Isabella Velicogna of UC Irvine reported that satellite gravitational variation measurements of Antarctica's ice cap showed significant loss of ice between 2002-2008, but that the large natural variations in melting with the seasons made it difficult to be confident of the results. A somewhat different result was reported by J. Zwally of NASA. Using data from a higher-resolution satellite-borne laser altimeter, he found that there was no major loss of Antarctica's ice sheet between 2003-2007. Regardless of which data set is correct, Antarctica is in better shape than the Arctic because Antarctica has stayed relatively cool in recent decades (Figure 2). For example, the surface temperature at the South Pole cooled 0.05° C between 1980 and 1999 (Kwok and Comiso, 2002). The majority of Antarctica has shown no statistically significant warming over the past 50 years (Turner et al., 2005), and cooling has just been dominant between 1982-2004. In the period 2004-2007, much of the Antarctic warmed (Figure 3), but it is too early to say if this is the beginning of a warming trend. Check out the January 22 issue of Nature when new results about whether or not Antarctica is warming will be published.


Figure 2. Antarctic surface temperatures as observed via AHVRR satellite measurements between 1982 and 2004. Much of Antarctica cooled during this period. Image credit: IPCC The Physical Science Basis, Figure 3.32.


Figure 3. Antarctic surface temperatures as observed via AHVRR satellite measurements between 1981 and 2007. Note that the cooling trend observed from 1982-2004 reversed, thanks to warming from 2004-2007. Image credit: NASA

Why did Antarctica cool between 1982 and 2004 if there was global warming going on?
The weather of the Antarctic is dominated by a strong band of westerly winds that blow around the pole. This circumpolar vortex extends from the surface to the stratosphere, and can attain very high wind speeds, thanks to the absence of large land masses to slow it down. This vortex tends to isolate Antarctica from the rest of the globe, keeping global warming from influencing Antarctica's weather, and allowing the surface to cool. The Antarctic Peninsula, which sticks out from Antarctica towards South America, frequently lies outside the vortex. This has allowed the peninsula to warm significantly, compared to the rest of Antarctica (Figures 2 and 3). The antarctic circumpolar vortex has strengthened in the past 25-30 years, forming an even stronger barrier than usual. Tree ring records (Jones and Widman, 2004) suggest that the circumpolar vortex has shown similar strengthening in the past, so the current cooling trend in Antarctica may be natural.

Another possibility, favored by climate modelers, is that the strengthening of the circumpolar vortex and recent cooling in Antarctica are primarily due to a combination of the recent increase in greenhouse gases and the opening of the Antarctic ozone hole. The ozone hole opened up at about the same time as the recent cooling began. Ozone absorbs UV radiation which heats the atmosphere around it, so the absence of ozone has led to cooling in the stratosphere over Antarctica. This cooling has been about 10° C in October-November since 1985 (Thompson and Solomon, 2002). This has acted to intensify the circumpolar vortex, leading to surface cooling. If the climate modelers are right, the circumpolar vortex will weaken as the ozone hole diminishes in coming decades. This will allow the Antarctic to begin warming with the rest of the globe, in a decade or two.

References and resources
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2007, The Physical Science Basis.

Jones, J.M., and M. Widman, "Atmospheric science: Early peak in Antarctic oscillation index," Nature 432, 290-291 (18 November 2004) | doi:10.1038/432290b; Published online 17 November 2004.

Kwok, R., and J.C. Comiso, "Spatial patterns of variability in Antarctic surface temperature: Connections to the Southern Hemisphere Annular Mode and the Southern Oscillation", GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 29, NO. 14, 10.1029/2002GL015415, 2002.

Thompson, D.W.J., and S. Solomon, "Interpretation of Recent Southern Hemisphere Climate Change", Science 3 May 2002: Vol. 296. no. 5569, pp. 895 - 899 DOI: 10.1126/science.1069270.

Stroeve, J., M.M. Holland, W. Meier, T. Scambos, and M. Serreze, Arctic sea ice decline:Faster than forecast", GRL 34 L09501, doi:1029/2007GL029703, 2007.

Turner, J. et al., 2005, "Antarctic climate change during the last 50 years", International Journal of Climatology, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 279-294.

Arctic sea ice

"Antarctic cooling, global warming?" RealClimate.org post, 3 December 2004.

Volunteers needed for disaster relief fund-raising
The portlight.org disaster relief charity is in the process of wrapping up its Hurricane Ike relief efforts, and is looking ahead to the future. According the new wunderground featured blog, Portlight Disaster Relief, "Our goals are to expand our network of supporters, continue to create a sense of ownership and community and create a financial reserve. Achieving these goals is critical to us being able to serve future hurricane victims in a strategic, pro-active and efficient manner." To this end, Portlight is sponsoring a fund-raising effort this March and April in 40 cities--a Spring Relief Walk. Volunteers in twenty cities have already committed to the effort, and more volunteers are needed! Check out the Portlight Disaster Relief blog for more information.

Coming Monday: Inauguration Weather. Wednesday: is the globe cooling? A report on temperatures for 2008, merely the 9th warmest year on record.

Jeff Masters

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Did not know you could do that, Press. I will have to check it out .
There is a Satellite that goes overhead at about 7:00pm. South to North.
During its transit, it makes 1 or 2 incredible "flares". Slowly, gradually intensifies then fades slowly to norm.
I have always wondered if it is Solar Panel reflection or something.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24314
Quoting pottery:
How is a Sat. a Nav. Tool? You would need to know what sat. you were seeing, and all of that surely ??



Exactly!!! You need to know what you're looking for....I have a book on board that has tables....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10490
Those folks up in Alaska must be wondering what the hell is going on....

2 straight weeks of -40°F to -70°F temperatures and now they're above freezing thanks to a good ol Alaskan chinook.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting sullivanweather:
Cold spot in the Northeast this hour...

Clayton Lake, Maine
Lat: 46.62 Lon: -69.53 Elev: 1030
Last Update on Jan 15, 9:25 pm EST

NA

-33°F
(-36°C)
Humidity: 70 %
Wind Speed: Calm
Barometer: 30.17" (1027.7 mb)
Dewpoint: -39°F (-39°C)


And the whacky warm spot in the far northwest: Fairbanks Eiels, Alaska (Airport)
Updated: 7 min 11 sec ago
Mostly Cloudy
41 °F
Mostly Cloudy
Windchill: 35 °F
Humidity: 65%
Dew Point: 30 °F
Wind: 9 mph from the NNE
Pressure: 29.44 in (Falling)
Visibility: 10.0 miles
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
How is a Sat. a Nav. Tool? You would need to know what sat. you were seeing, and all of that surely ??
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24314
KEH....I'm looking right now at a charcoal sketch that was drawn by my Grandmother's sister in 1909...it's of St. Michael's from your piazza...would love to show it to you sometime.....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10490
KEH, an old Home ? I live in one too, 165 yrs old, but not particularly Grand. No Ballroom.
It is a Maintenance Challenge.....
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24314
pottery.....see them a lot offshore....they're a very useful navigational tool....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10490
Thank you Press. You may regret that statement, when you sober up !!

Re: Satellites, do you see them often ?
Here, it a regular thing, from sunset for about 2 hrs. Counted 11 one evening. There is a LOT of stuff out there...
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24314
Quoting pottery:
I never knew that Maine got so cold........



Within 50 miles of the border with Canada in northern Maine they're good for a -35°F to -40°F night about once a year...

Should be around those #'s tonight with some of the normally colder locales down to -45°F give or take.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting presslord:
pottery....you can stay with me....but you need to see KEH's grand ballroom....

Indeed!
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 2490
pottery....you can stay with me....but you need to see KEH's grand ballroom....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10490
I never knew that Maine got so cold........
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24314
The shop is on Savannah Hwy - next to Doscher's. But I noticed it when I returned to the home. Looking from the piazza, to the right of St. Michaels.

Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 2490
Yeah, Charlseton has always had that "ring" to it that makes me want to visit. Maybe one day. I'll buy another Lotto......
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24314
Cold spot in the Northeast this hour...

Clayton Lake, Maine
Lat: 46.62 Lon: -69.53 Elev: 1030
Last Update on Jan 15, 9:25 pm EST

NA

-33°F
(-36°C)
Humidity: 70 %
Wind Speed: Calm
Barometer: 30.17" (1027.7 mb)
Dewpoint: -39°F (-39°C)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
203. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Fiji Meteorological Services
Tropical Disturbance Summary
TROPICAL DISTURBANCE
6:00 AM FST January 16 2009
=======================================

At 18:00 PM UTC, Tropical Disturbance (1008 hPa) located near 13.0S 163.0E is reported as moving slowly. Position POOR based on infrared/visible with animation, peripheral surface observations, and latest Quikscat Pass. Sea surface temperature around 30-31C.

The system lies along a trough under a 250HPA subtropical ridge axis in a moderately sheared environment. Poor convection near the system in the last 12 hours and organization remains disorganized. A surface ridge to the south directs dry air entrainment to the tropical disturbance.

Most global models (EC/US/UK) has picked up the system but does not deepen or develop the system any further.

POTENTIAL FOR TD TO DEVELOP INTO A TROPICAL CYCLONE IN THE NEXT 24 TO 48 HOURS IS LOW
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 51 Comments: 45319
KEH Yes!!! we were leaving our church (Blessed Sacrament on Savannah Hwy) and saw it....Where's your shop?
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10490
201. KEHCharleston
2:47 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
Evening all

Pottery, I hope you make it to Charleston someday.

Orca, KOTG - close the door, already.

It's about 45 degrees and dropping. Do not expect to see it up to 45 degrees again until Sunday.

Press, did happen to look out at the sky about 8:30pm? Looked like a satellite - I have noticed it several times when I returned to from closing the shop. Towards the west - and just a bit to the south.



Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 2490
200. pottery
2:45 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
Sounds good to me, Press.

Sugar, St. Lucia is a great Island. The French influence there is nice.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24314
199. sugarsand
2:43 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
Quoting pottery:
Just for Info., I also visited Florida, California, New york, Oshkosh air show.

So I think I know more about you all, than you all know about me !

I haven't been to Trinidad...closest I've been is St. Lucia. Drank a bunch of rum,too.
Member Since: September 13, 2008 Posts: 9 Comments: 2953
198. presslord
2:42 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
I spent a very drunken weekend in Key West on a boat with a chick from Trinidad in 1984....that's all I need to know.....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10490
197. pottery
2:40 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
Just for Info., I also visited Florida, California, New york, Oshkosh air show.

So I think I know more about you all, than you all know about me !
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24314
196. pottery
2:36 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
Yeah, she Wed a Caterpillar Engineer.
Now they live in Arizona. Great place. Been there, NewMex, etc, looking at all the Pueblo Pots.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24314
195. sugarsand
2:33 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
Quoting pottery:
My sister married a Caterpillar. Lived in all kinds of exotic places, then Head Office, Peoria.
Poor girl, even had to become overly Religious, to get her Mall Membership.......

You mean Caterpillar, the big equipment Caterpillar?
Member Since: September 13, 2008 Posts: 9 Comments: 2953
194. pottery
2:33 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
LOL Atmo. I am a recent Manifestation of a long and productive line...
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24314
193. pottery
2:31 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
My sister married a Caterpillar. Lived in all kinds of exotic places, then Head Office, Peoria.
Poor girl, even had to become overly Religious, to get her Mall Membership.......
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24314
192. atmoaggie
2:29 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
Quoting presslord:
my colllege girlfriend was the daughter of the Mayor of Peoria...it ain't exactly a garden spot...


Yep, been there, avoiding that.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
191. sugarsand
2:29 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
You keep bragging Pottery, you'll have a boatload of WU people at your door.
Member Since: September 13, 2008 Posts: 9 Comments: 2953
190. atmoaggie
2:28 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
Quoting pottery:
Nope. A Christmas holiday in Peoria, Illinois (dont go there), and a 2 week stint in Toronto in Feb once.
That was quite enough for me.
Lived in the sun since 1817 !!


Dude's a vampire or something. Cool.

Have you by any chance been taking good temperature measurements all this time? We could use the data ;-)
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
189. pottery
2:28 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
You are beginning to SOUND like her too, Press.
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188. presslord
2:28 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
my colllege girlfriend was the daughter of the Mayor of Peoria...it ain't exactly a garden spot...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10490
187. pottery
2:27 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
Nope. A Christmas holiday in Peoria, Illinois (dont go there), and a 2 week stint in Toronto in Feb once.
That was quite enough for me.
Lived in the sun since 1817 !!
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24314
186. presslord
2:26 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
pottery....that's just mean....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10490
185. sugarsand
2:25 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
Quoting pottery:
Hi Sugar. Thats too chilly for me.......

Me, too! I keep telling the husband we are not far enough south.
Member Since: September 13, 2008 Posts: 9 Comments: 2953
184. pottery
2:24 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
Hi Sugar. Thats too chilly for me.......
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24314
183. sugarsand
2:22 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
Pottery, you ever lived in cold climate?
Member Since: September 13, 2008 Posts: 9 Comments: 2953
182. pottery
2:21 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
Well, if it stays clear tonight, which it looks to be doing, it will plummet to around 70 in the early hours. I think I will need a blanket tonight LOL
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24314
181. atmoaggie
2:19 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
Quoting presslord:
pottery.....you make me sick....

Charleston, SC....47 and fallin' like a rock....low 23.....


My current temps and forecast in SE LA are exactly that.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
180. sugarsand
2:18 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
Hi all! Destin 46 degrees , north wind at 13mph, temp going down to 28 tonight and about 25 tomorrow night. 'cuse me, this is Florida!
Member Since: September 13, 2008 Posts: 9 Comments: 2953
179. atmoaggie
2:15 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
Quoting pangean:



This sees like a pretty safe bet since there hasn't been a positive Arctic sea ice extent anomaly in years. At least, relative to the 1979-2000 averege; not sure where you're getting this thousands of years thing. It looks like the current anomaly is on the order of a minus million square kilometers. Why would anyone think that we'd make that up over the next week?


I should have said "further below the positive PDO norm"...sorry. Nowhere did I say, nor did mean, we had a positive sea ice anomaly.

I expect the rate of increase for this year to flatten out in this plot for a week or so. My point about not following the average conditions is that in this plot the rate of extent increase will not be parallel to the average for the next week, but less than the average rate of increase:



The thousands of years thing has to do our commonly used definition of that 1979-2000. What if the extent was anomalously high during that period and comparing today's extent against that period is nonsense? How do we know?

This speaks to what we are using as a baseline.

Define: anomaly (from wiktionary) A deviation from a rule or from what is regarded as normal.
Question: What if the definition of "what is regarded as normal" is skewed? An anomaly is shown when there isn't one. An anomaly is possibly shown of the wrong sign. Not saying this is true, but certainly possible.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
178. pottery
2:13 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
Sorry Press.
I do that, sometimes. Or so my wife says.........
heheheh
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24314
177. presslord
2:10 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
pottery.....you make me sick....

Charleston, SC....47 and fallin' like a rock....low 23.....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10490
176. pottery
1:55 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
Good Evening.
Trinidad weather now-
77 F temp, wind calm, clear sky, great visibility, frogs in pond making strange noises.

Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24314
175. all4hurricanes
1:49 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
Sorry I don't live in NY and logic tells me Hudson bay and Hudson river aren't to far apart but I couldn't be more wrong. NOTHING IN TROPICS waaah!!!
Member Since: March 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2373
174. presslord
1:36 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
NRA....he banned me for posting an article ...that he disagreed with....that I also disagreed with....so...he banned me for agreeing with him....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10490
173. grumpier
1:25 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
Dr. Masters : "Well, I can understand this point of view, given complexity of the climate change issue, and the large amount of conflicting information one sees in the media. "

You are a very gracious, and patient, man, sir! Thanks for this blog, and thanks for the good write-ups regarding climate, its (significantly anthropogenically) changing nature, and the leading science that studies such topics.
172. pangean
1:17 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
Quoting atmoaggie:
I have a wager to post here. I bet that in the next 7 days our instruments and statistics are going to notice that total Arctic ice coverage is below the positive PDO norm (It will simply say ice extent anomaly, as if we have been measuring it for 1000 years) or, at the very least, be close to falling below that average level for the date.

Why?

It is colder in Atlanta than Fairbanks at this very moment (go ahead check it out). Cold air moved south...replaced by air from the N. Central Pacific. Arcitc sea ice will not be growing as fast as it was last week for at least the next week and will thus not be following the PDO average conditions.



This sees like a pretty safe bet since there hasn't been a positive Arctic sea ice extent anomaly in years. At least, relative to the 1979-2000 averege; not sure where you're getting this thousands of years thing. It looks like the current anomaly is on the order of a minus million square kilometers. Why would anyone think that we'd make that up over the next week?
171. atmoaggie
12:50 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
Quoting NRAamy:
MichaelSTL banned me from his blog because I don't agree with him about Global Warming....so, what club did I just join, and how many members are there now?

;)


You just joined wunderground. Everyone is in that particular club. STL is waiting for an excuse to ban himself so his world will be complete.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
170. atmoaggie
12:48 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
I have a wager to post here. I bet that in the next 7 days our instruments and statistics are going to notice that total Arctic ice coverage is below the positive PDO norm (It will simply say ice extent anomaly, as if we have been measuring it for 1000 years) or, at the very least, be close to falling below that average level for the date.

Why?

It is colder in Atlanta than Fairbanks at this very moment (go ahead check it out). Cold air moved south...replaced by air from the N. Central Pacific. Arcitc sea ice will not be growing as fast as it was last week for at least the next week and will thus not be following the PDO average conditions.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
169. Glassman
12:36 AM GMT on January 16, 2009
OK, how about another theory on the shrinking ice: I think it's probable that with all the profit taking of the natural resources available a large part of the shrinking ice is due to "Icebreaker ships". They keep building them bigger and stronger, going where no man has gone before, and thus opening holes in the ice that were never there in the past. Cruising around in these ice fields keeps them broke up and a goodly portion of the ice just floats away. Another goodly portion has more exposed edges to melt or be affected by the ocean and wave action.
You know the same people chasing the Polar Bears use this equipment. Probably scare off a few pounds of bear meat every time they get close to one, along with a potential meal for the bear.
The tourist season brings these boats and others to the base of Glaciers adding to the problem by helping to wear away at the base and allowing the higher ice to hurry itself on down to the sea.
And then maybe it’s all for naught as this record breaking cold weather may put enough ice up there to hold out for quite a while!
Just a thought,

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.