back to article Antarctic ice at all time high: We have more to learn, says boffin

Climate scientists have confessed they are baffled – yet again – by another all-time record area of sea covered by ice around the Antarctic coasts. "What we're learning is, we have more to learn," said Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the US National Snow and Ice Data Center, announcing the latest annual sea ice maximum for the …

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  1. Matthew Smith

    Antactica is melting too

    Antactica is a continent. Water ice is draining off the land, and the salinity of the southern ocean is dropping.Water with lower salinity is quicker to freeze, hence the increase in sea ice.

    1. beast666

      Re: Antactica is melting too

      So pure water ice is melting from the land of Antarctica. Pure ice melts at 0 C.

      It then goes into the sea where it promptly freezes despite the fact that the sea is saline and has a melting point < 0 C.

      Can anyone see the problem with this? ;)

      1. Alfred

        Re: Antactica is melting too

        "Can anyone see the problem with this? ;)"

        So you've got salt water (which has a freezing point below zero, typically about minus 2 C), at a temperature of minus something, and you then put some freshwater on top of it, which then gets colder and freezes in its new surroundings of less than zero. What's the problem with this?

        1. beast666

          Re: Antactica is melting too

          How does the pure water flow if it's surroundings are < 0 C?

          That is the problem.

          1. Alfred

            Re: Antactica is melting too

            "How does the pure water flow if it's surroundings are < 0 C?"

            It flows when it is warm. Some will be warm all the way to the sea. The cold, cold sea. It freezes when it gets cold again. Some of it will get cold enough before it gets to the sea and will freeze again before it gets to the sea. Some of it will get cold enough when it gets to the sea.

            Being surrounded by something less than 0C does not make water freeze instantly. It takes time. In that time, the water can move. Put a pan of warm water outside on a freezing cold day. Observe that the pan of water does not freeze instantly.

            1. beast666

              Re: Antactica is melting too

              You are really struggling to put the case forward that Antarctica is losing land ice aren't you?

              It is not. It is too cold. The fact that sea ice is increasing is because it is colder than it has been.

              The Earth hasn't warmed for > 18 years and counting.

              CO2 meanwhile continues to increase.

              Ergo. No connection between CO2 and global temperature.

              CAGW is false.

              Get over it.

              1. Alfred

                Re: Antactica is melting too

                "You are really struggling to put the case forward that Antarctica is losing land ice aren't you?"

                Is that aimed at me? I've got no opinion on that. My assertion is that it is possible to melt some ice, put the freshwater on a cold sea, and observe the freshwater freeze. This is a well-known meterological phenomenon, often observed (unsurprisingly) where freshwater rivers meet cold oceans.

                1. beast666

                  Re: Antactica is melting too

                  Name one freshwater river in Antarctica.

                  That would make a good pub quiz question... :)

                  As to it being "a well known meteorological phenomenon..." I think you mean hydrological.

                  1. Ben Trabetere

                    Re: Antactica is melting too

                    @beast666

                    "Name one freshwater river in Antarctica.

                    That would make a good pub quiz question... :)"

                    Onyx River. It is a glacial meltwater stream, roughly 20mi in length, and empties into Lake Vanda. It has flowing water only in the summer months.

                    Now, which ones of yous owes me a beer?

                  2. Alan Brown Silver badge

                    Re: Antactica is melting too

                    "Name one freshwater river in Antarctica."

                    Pine Island Glacier.

                    Glaciers ride on fresh water (the pressure from above causes the ice to melt, just like an ice skate melts ice) and PIG discharges several hundred tons of freshwater per second from the bottom of the ice shelf.

                2. peter_dtm

                  Re: Antactica is melting too

                  but to melt the ice; the air temperature has to be > 0C.

                  Which only happens rarely over the Antartic.

                  And only in the Antartic Summer - which is still a couple of months off

                  Yes there is some anomolous warming (probably caused by vulcanism) around the Antartic peninsular - but that is a comparatively small area (.. of the Antartic land mass) and last time I heard; vulcanism is nothing to do with man; or CO2 emmissions (on the contrary; vulcanism is a large producer of CO2).

                  The climate models used to predict Catastrophic global warming failed totally to predict an increasing Antartic ice extent; just as they failed to predict the 18 year lack of warming; or predicted the non existant tropo hot spot. In short the climate models are a busted flush. Let me put it in IT terms - if your model of your corporate network predicted that you coud not exceed 1MB bandwidth; but you constantly achieved 1GB bandwidth; what would you do with the model ? Junk it; or insist that reality is wrong and the model right ?

                  1. Tom 13

                    Re: In short the climate models are a busted flush.

                    Only if by "busted flush" you mean two diamonds and one of everything else.

                    In fairness, given the hand is so bad poker doesn't actually have a name for it, I suppose I shouldn't quibble.

                  2. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Antactica is melting too

                    "but to melt the ice; the air temperature has to be > 0C."

                    Hence why most of the melting is from warm water sea currents.

                  3. gzuckier

                    Re: Antactica is melting too

                    You're saying that there is no melting of the land ice in the Antarctic, from your deep theoretical understanding ("but to melt the ice; the air temperature has to be > 0C."), despite every scientific measure, despite photographic evidence of the antarctic glaciers shrinking. Wow.

                    http://climate.nasa.gov/news/242/ All lies, I take it?

                  4. Alan Brown Silver badge

                    Re: Antactica is melting too

                    "but to melt the ice; the air temperature has to be > 0C."

                    To melt the ice at the surface, yes.

                    Water is a funny substance. Under pressure it melts at slightly lower temperatures, but more importantly, extremely high pressure ice behaves more like molasses than the substance we put in our drinks and extremely high pressures are what you find under a few hundred metres (or a few km) of ice.

                    The end result is that there is a huge amount of fresh water, or "soft ice" sitting under every glacier in the world and that's what enables them to slide. This also causes problems when making deep core sampling holes in ice, as they close up after a few days and have been known to close up behind the drill.

                    The other odd thing is that the atmosphere only accounts for a small fraction of the extra absorbed energy from the sun. Virtually all of it (~90%) goes into the oceans and being much denser than air, they only heat up a little, but it's enough to make a big difference to life on the planet. That slightly warmer water has been enough to melt the arctic icecap (anything less than 2 metres thick is only temporary ice) and carve away at glacier underpinnings worldwide.

              2. TheVogon Silver badge

                Re: Antactica is melting too

                "You are really struggling to put the case forward that Antarctica is losing land ice aren't you?"

                It's loosing ice mass according to the most accurate measurements that we have: http://www.sciencepoles.org/interview/putting-antarcticas-ice-mass-loss-into-perspective

                CryoSat data shows that the Antarctic Ice Sheet has been losing, on average, 159 billion tons of ice every year for the past three years (once CryoSat passed its commissioning phase). This is twice previous estimates of ice loss from the Antarctic Ice Sheet that were made during the last decade.

                "The fact that sea ice is increasing is because it is colder than it has been."

                That is not the main reason why sea ice cover is increasing - although due to regional or wind based variation it might be a partial cause for a specific season - the primary cause is believed to be due to reduced water salinity from increased glacial melting.

                "The Earth hasn't warmed for > 18 years and counting."

                The earth is most definately still warming. Particularly the upper oceans.

                "CO2 meanwhile continues to increase.

                Ergo. No connection between CO2 and global temperature."

                But the earth is still warming. And more than we thought: http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate2389.html

                1. beast666
                  FAIL

                  Re: Antactica is melting too

                  CryoSat...

                  No. They are not measurements they are *estimates*

                  The Earth is most definitely NOT warming...

                  http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/10/02/its-official-no-global-warming-for-18-years-1-month/

                  My ninjas will beat your pirates any day of the week.

                  1. Def Silver badge
                    FAIL

                    Re: Antactica is melting too

                    *sigh*

                    Not that fucking graph again. Look at it again. And this time actually read what it's telling you, without glancing at the clearly incorrect and sensationalist text dropped over the top.

                    It's stating, quite obviously, that the mean temperature over the last 18 years has increased by about 0.24 degrees.

                    If the temperature hadn't increased, the big blue line across the graph would be next to the 0.0 towards the bottom of the side scale.

                    1. beast666

                      Re: Antactica is melting too

                      No.

                      The anomaly trend is 0.0 C

                      I suggest you fucking look again.

                    2. peter_dtm

                      Re: Antactica is melting too

                      what are the error margins on that sir ?

                      oops - the so called warming is less than the error margin which means it is merely NOISE not a trend or anything else.

                      There has been no statistically significant warming over the past 18 years. If you insist on being pedantic (in which case never stoop to talking about Carbon - its CO2; never complain about the risks of Climate change - its CATASTROPHIC climate change that could be a problem).

                      CATASTROPHIC climate change is a myth - CLIMATE CHANGE is natural and the observerd changes over the last 100 years are with in bounds of previous changes and are not unique nor unprecedented over many thousands of years.

                      The null hypothosis that the observered changes to the climate are entirely natural has yet to be disproven; therfore the CATASTROPHIC climate change hypothosis remains just that - an unproven hypothosis. But don't let the scientific method get in the way of the hysteria; or the correct interpretation of noisy graphs.

                    3. John Deeb

                      Re: Antactica is melting too

                      Def "not that fucking graph again", lets hope you never will put your money in any stocks or shares. If after 18 years the value is still at 0.24 above the long running average then there was effectively zero growth. What you are thinking of perhaps is a different question: is the Earth surface temperature still warmer than the long running average of 30 years? Yes it is but that's "globally warmer" not "global warming" as defined at least by for example EOS/NASA.

                      Normally the usual goalpost widening starts here to describe the Earth as one giant energetic system where the "warming" is some process that is taking place especially in all the hidden corners. Some would call that process "change" by the way.

                      1. Anonymous Coward
                        Anonymous Coward

                        Re: Antactica is melting too

                        You use shapes in graphs to predict stock/share prices? Really? Geez, I thought chart analysis had died out with phrenology, music hall and gas lamps.

                  2. JDBishop5

                    Re: Antactica is melting too

                    Please reserve your remarks to the locker room. Here, we expect people to do some reading before they comment. Several actually do.

                2. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  Re: Antactica is melting too

                  "CryoSat data shows that the Antarctic Ice Sheet has been losing, on average, 159 billion tons of ice every year for the past three years "

                  To put that in perspective, 1 billion tons is 1 cubic km of ice.

                  On average is one thing. Cryosat has also been showing substantial increases each year.

                  I currently live 44 metres above sea level, but anyone living < 10 metres needs to think through their flood preparedness over the next few years. It's not just rises in sea level which are a problem, but increased storm intensities and surges which come with them.

                3. Jaybus

                  Re: Antactica is melting too

                  There is a difference between showing that the upper level of the oceans has warmed and showing that the Earth [planet] has warmed. What about the lower levels of the ocean? subsurface temps? Land mass temps that are all over the place? It is a complex system. I really respect Prof. Scambos for stating "What we're learning is that we have more to learn", another way of saying "Damned if I know! We need to study this further before we can make any determinations.". What a refreshing change from the typical response of modern, grant-driven scientists!

              3. The First Dave

                Re: Antactica is melting too

                Quick question - if Antarctica is getting bigger, why is the Arctic still getting smaller?

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Antactica is melting too

                  "if Antarctica is getting bigger, why is the Arctic still getting smaller?"

                  The "growth" is in the sea ice extent - which is thin and seasonal. Both are loosing mass to melting.

                  1. Philip Lewis
                    Headmaster

                    Re: Antactica is melting too

                    "Both are loosing "

                    A down vote for being incapable of spelling

                2. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  Re: Antactica is melting too

                  The antarctic landmass is fucking cold. Inland temperatures seldom if ever go above -20 and some areas have never been above -40 - but inland temperatures are rising and you won't see any change in ice until they hit melting point (at which point the visible change is sudden and spectacular), except for faster glacier flow.

                  The temperature around the antarctic caoastline is more-or-less zero. (It's below freezing above the waterline, but the seawater is above freezing or it'd freeze to the seafloor.)

                  Adding more cold stuff into the water reduces the temperature slightly and decreases the salinity slightly. That's enough to form more ice on the water, even though the overall _volume_ of ice is reduced.

                  A few years ago, people took an unusually harsh UK winter (3-4C below normal) as proof global warming was a fake, but completely missed that large chunks of canada and siberia were more than 20C warmer than normal.

                  Climate is not weather and local clmactic changes are not global ones. Large amounts of relative warming in one are can result in small amounts of relative cooling in another, but the overall change can still be relative warming.

                  Antarctic sea ice is different to arctic sea ice. It's entirely possible for the sea ice to expand, if the amount of land ice pushing into it increases - which it has.

                3. pureabsolute

                  Re: Antactica is melting too

                  Change in currents, both in the air and in the ocean, can do that.

              4. edterry

                Re: Antactica is melting too

                The Global warming theory treats the earth as a closed system. If CO2 is causing the earth's temperature to rise, how does the Antarctic ice increase?

                In Washington DC this year, we've experienced a very mild summer, which proves nothing since a single season is about the weather, not the climate. All natural phenomena are controlled by multiple forces, many with complex feedback mechanisms. Any attempt to isolate one factor (i.e. CO2) as THE cause will always fail.

                For an enlightening read, read Michael Crichton's "Aliens Cause Global Warming."

                1. Nigel 11

                  Re: Antactica is melting too

                  The Global warming theory treats the earth as a closed system. If CO2 is causing the earth's temperature to rise, how does the Antarctic ice increase?

                  Implying that higher temperature automatically means less ice? Oh dear ....

                  Firstly, pure-water ice forms at 0C. the temperature of Antarctica is minus-lots C. So it can get warmer, and yet ice won't necessarily melt.

                  Secondly, to make new ice needs a supply of water. Water is carried in as vapour in the air (which may then condense into water or ice crystals while remaining airborne - clouds). The warmer the air, the greater its water-carrying capacity. So warmer air may translate into greater precipitation, which over Antarctica means snow. Or, it may not, because increased capacity does not automatically mean increased content, and because added clouds don't necessarily generate added snow.

                  Finally, where does the water in the air come from? That depends on air circulation patterns - weather, climate. It's the ever-changing pattern of air circulation that determines whether air in any particular place is carrying more water than last week, or last year, or last century. Weather and climate forecasting is HARD. (Especially hard when you have water turning into ice, and that phase transition releasing a huge amount of energy at exactly 0C. It makes all your equations go horribly non-linear).

                2. gzuckier

                  Re: Antactica is melting too

                  How does the Antarctic ice increase if the earth is a closed system?

                  Gee, do you think it's associated with the years of drought experienced in the US Southwest, and the Middle East; and the existence of a device called a "cold trap" which you use to dehumidify air, by passing it over a cold surface so that the water vapor freezes out?

                  Or does your understanding of global warming make you think that Antarctica is now significantly warmer than the freezing point of water?

              5. hemidude

                Re: Antactica is melting too

                CO2 is 0.4% of the atmosphere it has no effect on global temps get over it. How bout this simply experiment anyone can do take tow airtight mason jars and put a temp guage in each that you can read. Next drop a chunck of dry ice it one seal it and let the dry ice melt and the temp return to room temp--ok so you have massively increased the co2 level in the jar. take another jar of room air and seal it --pressures will be different but we will ignor that for right now. next place both on a black piece of paper and shine a 100 watt light at the same distance from each jar--record the temps inside each jar guess what they will be the same since co2 does not create heat if it did we would use it to heat our homes and drive our industries!

                1. TheVogon Silver badge

                  Re: Antactica is melting too

                  "CO2 is 0.4% of the atmosphere it has no effect on global temps get over it"

                  http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/last_400k_yrs.html

                  "How bout this simply experiment anyone can do "

                  Done properly:

                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwtt51gvaJQ

                  1. Charles Manning

                    "Done properly"... bollocks!

                    The Alkaselzer tab would have filled the bottle with almost pure CO2.

                    If he had done it prooperly he'd have put 400ppm CO2 in the bottle.

                    If you want to, repeat the experiment by blowing into the bottle. That would put approx 1% CO2 in the bottle.

                    That would have put the two lines so close together that other variables (eg. direction of the light) would have far bigger impact.

                2. Mke68

                  Re: Antactica is melting too

                  The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is 0.04% (400 ppm is 400/1,000,000)

                  Also while CO2 is a greenhouse gas it takes a doubling of the CO2 for a 1°C increase in global temperature. That means an increase from 400 ppm to 800 ppm would only result in an additional 1°C increase in global temperature.

                  Where the models and AGW theory falls apart in my opinion is the idea of Positive Forcing. That is the run away temperatures do not come from the increase in CO2 but that our currently stable negative forcing environment will somehow flip and become an unstable positive forcing one.

                  That is where our conversation should be focused. If the plant was susceptible to a positive forcing then it would have destroyed itself a long, long, ... ,long time ago

                  1. Nigel 11

                    Re: Antactica is melting too

                    That is where our conversation should be focused. If the plant was susceptible to a positive forcing then it would have destroyed itself a long, long, ... ,long time ago

                    Faulty logic

                    The sun is getting hotter as it ages. One of these years, this planet will tip into "cold Venus" thermal runaway. Consensus is that year is several hundred million years in the future, and that the worst that anthropogenic global warming can do is to melt all the ice, thereby flooding a lot of real-estate. Thereafter there's a nice stable region where increased surface temperature would cause increased cloud cover, reflecting more sunlight, therefore reducing temperatures. Negative feedback until cloud cover saturates at 100%.

                    But the "cold Venus" tipping point will be reached eventually, and maybe it's a good idea to consider the possibility that it's much nearer than our consensus suggests. We won't get a second chance if we're wrong.

                  2. Conrad Muller

                    Re: Antactica is melting too

                    I live in Alaska, and we are experiencing the effects of warming, and have been for decades. Warmer winters are allowing spruce bark beetle infestations further north every year, loss of winter sea ice is causing shorelines and villages to wash away in winter storms, melting permafrost (soil that has been frozen for tens of thousands of years) is causing houses and roads to sink, and melting permafrost is causing the release of methane, which is an even more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. Dream on deniers.

                    By the way, the excess heat at moderate latitudes has been absorbed by the oceans, but that will not go on forever.

                  3. gzuckier

                    Re: Antactica is melting too

                    You really don't understand radiative forcing.

                    "our currently stable negative forcing environment "

                    What does that mean?

                    " A positive forcing (more incoming energy) warms the system, while negative forcing (more outgoing energy) cools it. Causes of radiative forcing include changes in insolation and the concentrations of radiatively active gases, commonly known as greenhouse gases and aerosols."

                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiative_forcing#Climate_sensitivity

                    1. Mke68

                      Re: Antactica is melting too

                      Positive forcing refers to the AGW theory that CO2 concentration will reach a tipping point where the earth's climate will "run away". Part of the theory involves the water cycle. A doubling of CO2 results in 1°C increase in temperature. That means from 200ppm to 400ppm results in 1°C increase. 400ppm to 800ppm results in another 1°C increase. 800ppm to 1600ppm add another 1°C increase.

                      AGW is attempting to convince us that somewhere between 400ppm and 800ppm the temperature increase will be much larger than 1°C due to other effects, such as an increase in evaporation which increases water vapor in the air. Water vapor, which is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, will then cause the global mean temperature to increase much faster and eventually "run away". Currently the water cycle acts to moderate global temperatures. The water cycle/temperature is stable (negative forcing). AGW is trying to convince us that there is some critical mean global temperature at which the water cycle will become unstable (positive forcing) and cause all of these global catastrophes.

                3. MondoMan
                  FAIL

                  @hemidude - Review your math before trying physics again

                  Currently, atmospheric CO2 is very close to 400 ppm = 400 parts per million = 0.4 parts per thousand = 0.04 parts per hundred = 0.04 percent.

                  Yet, you claim CO2 is 0.4% of the atmosphere. Since you're off by 10x on this easily-checked fact, readers will be unlikely to take your other claims seriously.

                  1. gzuckier

                    Re: @hemidude - Review your math before trying physics again

                    "Yet, you claim CO2 is 0.4% of the atmosphere. Since you're off by 10x on this easily-checked fact, readers will be unlikely to take your other claims seriously."

                    Once you've made up your mind CO2 doesn't make a difference, it might as well be 400%, you're still going to say it makes no difference.

                4. JDBishop5

                  Re: Antactica is melting too

                  Damn! Congratulations! I am 73 years old and have been studying science since I was about 5. Your post is the most ignorant passage I have ever seen from any observer, from K through post Doc.

                5. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Antactica is melting too

                  Not quite the correct model. Instead, take two flat airtight tanks large enough to cover a terrarium. Leave one full of just air while you put dry ice in the other to raise the CO2 level. Now, use them to cover two terraria with the sides covered to block outside influences. Now shine your heat lamp through the covers and try your temperature checks.

                  This is a more accurate experiment because what you're forgetting is that CO2 doesn't absorb heat; it reflects heat, acting like a blanket. And it doesn't have to take very much to have a blanketing influence. After all, if one chlorine atom can destabilize several ozone molecules, why can't a thin layer of CO2 work like a thermal blanket?

                6. gzuckier

                  Re: Antactica is melting too

                  "CO2 is 0.4% of the atmosphere it has no effect on global temps "

                  It's been known for a century that the earth is approximately 33 degrees C warmer than the solar energy received can account for. Compare to the temperature of the moon, for instance, adjusting for different albedo.

                  http://www-ramanathan.ucsd.edu/files/pr72.pdf

                  "The global average mean surface temperature of the earth is 288 K (Table

                  2.1). Above we deduced that the emission temperature of the Earth is 255K,

                  considerably lower."-2.3 The greenhouse effect http://www.geo.utexas.edu/courses/387h/Lectures/chap2.pdf

                  "The Earth has a moderate greenhouse effect which increases the surface

                  temperature by some 40 K over the blackbody temperature." http://www.astro.uvic.ca/~venn/A201/maths.7.planet_temperature.pdf

                  Have you ever tried your experiment?

              6. JDBishop5

                Re: Antactica is melting too

                Do some reading for goodness sake. (http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/) Western Antarctica is gaining some mass. Eastern Antarctica is losing mass at a terrific rate. The average for the continent shows an accelerating and dramatic rate of loss overall.

                It is better for everybody if we use actual facts to think with.

                1. RealFred

                  Re: Antactica is melting too

                  Averages are misleading. If there are two students, one gets 99% in an exam and 1 gets 1% in an exam, on average they both get 50%

              7. gzuckier

                Re: Antactica is melting too

                fer crissakes, the Antarctic land ice has melted to the point where it's affecting the earth's gravity.

                Antarctic ice sheet losing mass, says University of Colorado study

                http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-03/uoca-ais022806.php

                Isabella Velicogna, "Increasing rates of ice mass loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets revealed by GRACE," Geophys. Res. Lett. 36, L19503 (2009).

                Skepticism is demanding proof.

                Denialism is continuing to insist it's not true, when there is proof.

              8. Julz
                Joke

                Re: Antactica is melting too

                Citizens Against Government Waste?

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