Arctic sea ice continues low; Antarctic ice hits a new high

Arctic sea ice continues low; Antarctic ice hits a new high
This image shows that Arctic sea ice extent for September 2014 was 5.28 million square kilometers (2.04 million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1981 to 2010 median extent for that month. The black cross indicates the geographic North Pole. Sea Ice Index data. About the data. Credit--NSIDC

Sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean melted to its sixth lowest extent this year, while sea ice surrounding the Antarctic continent continued to break winter records, according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

Arctic sea ice cover grows each winter as the sun sets for several months, and shrinks each summer as the sun rises higher in the northern sky. Each year, the Arctic sea ice reaches its minimum extent in September. Summer is important because, among other things, it reflects sunlight, keeping the Arctic region cool and moderating global climate.

At the end of its melt season, Arctic sea ice fell to the sixth lowest extent in the satellite record, both in the daily and monthly average. Sea ice hit 5.02 million square kilometers (1.94 million square miles) on September 17 and averaged 5.3 million square kilometers (2.05 million square miles) for the month of September.

"Twenty years ago, having ice extent this low would have astounded us," said NSIDC Director Mark Serreze. "Now it is expected."

This year edged out last year as the sixth lowest extent since satellites started measuring sea ice in 1979. The lowest Arctic extent on record occurred in 2012, when sea ice measured 3.41 million square kilometers (1.32 million square miles). The succeeding lowest years are 2007, 2011, 2008, and 2010.

Through 2014, Arctic sea ice has now been declining at a rate of 13.3% per decade relative to the 1981 to 2010 average. The ten lowest September ice extents over the satellite record have all occurred in the last ten years.

The Arctic and the Antarctic are regions that have a lot of ice and acts as air conditioners for the Earth system. This year, Antarctic sea ice reached a record maximum extent while the Arctic reached a minimum extent in the top ten lowest since satellite records began. One reason we are seeing differences between the Arctic and the Antarctic is due to their different geographies. As for what's causing the sea increase in the Antarctic, scientists are also studying ocean temperatures, possible changes in wind direction and, overall, how the region is responding to changes in the climate. Credit: NASA

"This year was nothing surprising. Overall we're continuing the long-term decreasing trend," said Walt Meier, research scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. "We're still well below average and there's no indication that we're going to recover."

Between the seasonal maximum extent that occurred on March 21, 2014 and the September 17 minimum, the Arctic Ocean lost a total of 9.89 million square kilometers (3.82 million square miles) of ice; which is the ninth largest in the satellite record, but the least amount of seasonal loss since 2006. This year's loss was 1.92 million square kilometers (741,000 square miles) less than the total loss that occurred in 2012.

Weather conditions prevailing over the summer of 2014 were unremarkable. The one significant weather pattern over the summer was a larger than normal pressure gradient over the Laptev Sea that drove southerly winds, brought warmer air and helped drive sea ice northward. This led to the tongue of open water that reached to within 5 degrees latitude of the pole. However, this pressure gradient was not particularly extreme so thinner ice cover in the area was also a significant contributor. Sea surface temperatures may also have played a role.

Antarctic sea ice reaches new record maximum
On Sept. 19, 2014, the five-day average of Antarctic sea ice extent exceeded 20 million square kilometers for the first time since 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The red line shows the average maximum extent from 1979-2014. Credit: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio/Cindy Starr

"The fact that minimum ice extent in 2013 and 2014 still fell so low despite ordinary weather suggests that the system has settled into the low trend," said NSIDC scientist Julienne Stroeve.

Meanwhile, sea ice surrounding the Antarctic continent reached its maximum extent on September 22 at 20.11 million square kilometers (7.76 million square miles). This is 1.54 million square kilometers (595,000 square miles) above the 1981 to 2010 average extent, which is nearly four standard deviations above average. Antarctic sea ice averaged 20.0 million square kilometers (7.72 million square miles) for the month of September. This new record extent follows consecutive record winter maximum extents in 2012 and 2013. The reasons for this recent rapid growth are not clear. Sea ice in Antarctica has remained at satellite-era record high daily levels for most of 2014.

"What we're learning is, we have more to learn," said Ted Scambos, lead scientist at NSIDC.

The unusual growth in Antarctica might be caused by changing wind patterns or recent ice sheet melt from warmer, deep ocean water reaching the coastline, according to scientists at NSIDC.  The melt water freshens and cools the deep ocean layer, and it contributes to a cold surface layer surrounding Antarctica, creating conditions that favor ice growth.


Explore further

2014 Arctic sea ice minimum sixth lowest on record (Update)

More information: See the full announcement at NSIDC's Arctic Sea Ice News and Analysis page: nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/201 … lt-season-in-review/
Provided by National Snow and Ice Data Center
Citation: Arctic sea ice continues low; Antarctic ice hits a new high (2014, October 8) retrieved 18 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2014-10-arctic-sea-ice-antarctic-high.html
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Oct 08, 2014
Wait!! This is settled science. How could they have more to learn??

Oct 08, 2014
There's always more to learn, but what has been learned so far indicates a trend to decreased sea ice in the Arctic. No amount of denier rhetoric or wishful arguing can change the facts as actually observed.

Oct 08, 2014
How about the fact that Arctic ice was lowest in the 1930s.
http://wattsupwit...covered/
http://hockeyscht...-in.html

Oct 08, 2014
None of believers invoking Steig's paper?
http://www.nature...669.html
Antarctica is melting, run for the hills!

Oct 08, 2014
The equation used to predict climate contains far too few variables. There are hundreds and hundreds of factors that can affect climate.

Warmists predicted increased temperatures based on really just one variable, CO2. Then when temperatures failed to rise as predicted, they blamed the failure of their equation on other factors. That is, they introduced new variables.

But there is no practical way to account for all the variables. One of them is adding to ice in Anarctica. As the article explains, no one knows what that variable is.

There is just as good a chance of warming as there is of cooling as far as anyone can truly say. As long as we don't know all the variables, we can't calculate properly.

Oct 08, 2014
The equation used to predict climate contains far too few variables. There are hundreds and hundreds of factors that can affect climate.


Seconded. A typical textbook on atmospheric physics contains at least two dozen of chapters each dedicated to a separate physical process. The book is literally littered with hundreds of differential equations. Pretending that climate models are anywhere close to reflecting this mess of complexity is foolish.

Oct 08, 2014
All that additional Antarctic sea ice should be a tip off to anyone with a half a science wit that the melting ice sheets are freshening the water and causing this situation.

This is very worrisome.

Oct 08, 2014
All that additional Antarctic sea ice should be a tip off to anyone with a half a science wit that the melting ice sheets are freshening the water and causing this situation.


Anybody with elementary school math background would call BS on that, and point out that salinity change due to alleged increased glacier melting is negligible:

Hint#1: "gigatones" of alleged glacier melt are literally drop in the bucket compared to millions of cubic kilometers volume of Southern ocean. Plus, the idea of "accelerated" ice melt is a fantasy not really supported by robust measurements.

Hint#2: google "salinity map", stare upon it a little, and try finding the alleged salinity decrease in the Antarctic region

Oct 08, 2014
Problem solved:
The melting North Pole is sinking unprecedented amounts of heat from the equator by melting, during this half of the the season. It is obviously very cold in the South, with very little land to warm. Therefore weather cells there are absorbing less heat.
The past few months have been Summer in the North, Winter in the South. It has also been uncharacteristically wet in the Antarctic.
However, more heat than usual has been being driven up North, by a stronger Equator-to North Pole gradient.

Fits all data. It presents interesting dynamics. I'm going to investigate Southern Hemispere storms this year and see what I see.
@runrig, what do you think of this attempt at meteorology at a global scale?

Oct 08, 2014
There is more ice in the Arctic than there has been for the last two years.. In fact there is 47% more ice now than in 2012!

Oct 09, 2014
There is more ice in the Arctic than there has been for the last two years.. In fact there is 47% more ice now than in 2012!


So what? - it's called natural variation, caused by weather.
It's the long term decline that is indicative of climate.
Try looking at this.....

http://www.carbon...tv21.png


Oct 13, 2014
Is there more ice collecting up at the antarctic than what is lost at the arctic?

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