PBS Covers Sea Ice Minimum

September 24, 2012

Very informative interview here with Walt Meier of the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

No false balance in this account. Just a scientist telling us what we, as a species, know about the astonishing pace of change on our home planet.

30 Responses to “PBS Covers Sea Ice Minimum”

  1. Lee Pillow Says:

    Could you talk about the Antarctic reports of record ice growth, when you get a chance? I know a low ice year in the north often corresponds to highs in the south, but I don’t quite understand how all that works.

    I’d like to be prepared for the inevitable denier hordes keying on the report.

  2. daveburton Says:

    In fact, no balance at all:

    There’s no mention at all of the record high Antarctic sea ice extent.

    There’s no mention of the big August storm that broke up the Arctic ice.

    There’s no mention of the fact that the Antarctic is a better climate indicator than the Arctic, because Antarctic sea ice is anchored to a continent, rather than blown around by the vagaries of the wind.

    There’s no mention of the fact that, as an albedo-based feedback mechanism, Antarctic ice is more important than Arctic ice, because Antarctic ice is at less extreme latitudes.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    They are so predictable. I typed all of the above before playing the video. The usual spin was all there, just as I expected.

    Plus, after listening to it, there’re more:

    It includes the lie that the satellite record doesn’t start until 1979 (ignoring 4.5 years of data from Nimbus 5).

    It even discusses albedo-based feedback (though without using the term), but nevertheless doesn’t mention the fact that the as an albedo-based feedback mechanism, Antarctic ice is more important than Arctic ice.

    In fact, in the entire 5-3/4 minute segment, it never mentions the Antarctic at all!

    In other words, it’s typical for Propaganda B.S. TV.

    And, as icing on the cake, there’s also an annoying delay of the audio, compared to the video.

    • ahaveland Says:

      Look, a sick Squirrel!
      Antarctic sea ice is at a record high because it’s vacating the continent faster than disenchanted sponsors from a sinking Heartland billboard campaign.

      Tamino knocks this meme on the head nicely:
      http://tamino.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/poles-apart

      • daveburton Says:

        If that’s so, then where’s all the water going? Sea level is rising no faster now than it was 3/4 century ago, despite the contribution of increased groundwater extraction.


        • Right. Except for all the studies that show that sea level has been rising steadily since 1880 through present day, and that there has been a decided acceleration of sea level rise since 1980. Except for that, you are right.

          No, sorry that would be my mistake, As usual, you are wrong.


          • Where is all that water going, daveburton?

            I’m guessing it is going to the same place you think millions of h-bomb heat content increases due to the greenhouse effect go every single day – to Cloud Cuckoo Land?

          • daveburton Says:

            Roger, sea level has been rising, in most places, but at a glacially slow rate, and many studies confirm that there has been no measurable acceleration of sea level rise in the last 3/4 century.

            Here in North Carolina, our best tide gauge is at Wilmington, and over its 76 year history it’s measured an average of1.98 mm/year sea level rise, which is a little higher than most places in the world, because the land is sinking slightly (Peltier VM2 0.88 mm/yr, VM3 0.04 mm/yr). But over the past 20 years, sea level at Wilmington hasn’t increased at all.

            Not all tide gauges are showing deceleration, but the best studies of averaged tide gauge data show a slight decelerating trend in the rate of sea-level rise.

          • daveburton Says:

            Typo correction:
            s/ VM3 / VM4 /


    • Extent is NOT mass. The Antartic has been losing ice at a dramatic rate, not gaining ice as you want us to believe, daveburton. And the loss of ice mass is accelerating.

      • daveburton Says:

        If that’s so, then where’s all the water going, Roger? Sea level is rising no faster now than it was 3/4 century ago, despite the contribution of increased groundwater extraction.

        That simple datum should, by itself, be sufficient to alert you to the fact that the alarmists who thought Antarctica was losing ice mass at a dramatic rate were wrong. But now we have confirmation, from the ICEsat data, which shows that the Antarctic ice sheets are gaining mass, not losing it.

        Now, that was not only news, it was also a test: when you read that, did you smile, or frown? If you smiled at the good news, then you care more about the good of mankind than about being right, but if you frowned it means your ego is more important to you than the future of the planet and the people who inhabit it.

        So which was it?


        • The Antarctic ice – combined land and sea ice is decreasing by 100 gigatons per year, and the loss is accelerating. You and your sources are full of it, daveburton.

          Antarctic sea ice extent is increasing, but this is not mass. More ice is being pushed out to sea because Antarctic land ice (glaciers) are moving more rapidly to the sea. Despite the increased extent of sea ice, the temperature of the sea around the sea ice is rising.

          If you wondered (I know you don’t, but anyone with any curiosity would) where most of the heat from the greenhouse effect was actually going (that’s half a billion atomic bomb’s worth of added heat every year), it’s going into ocean water, and we are starting to see the effects now in the Antarctic sea – that’s why the temperature of the ocean water there is going up.

          • daveburton Says:

            Roger says, “You and your sources are full of it, daveburton.”

            “My sources” = NASA, and the ICEsat data. If you’d bothered to click the ICEsat data link that I gave you, you’d have read that ICEsat’s measurements indicate that the Antarctic ice sheets are gaining mass, not losing it. This is the opening slide:

            Mass Balance of the Antarctic Ice Sheet 1992-2008 from ERS and ICESAT: Gains exceed losses
            by Jay Zwally, NASA Goddard, USA

            You can find Dr. Zwally’s contact info here:
            http://eospso.gsfc.nasa.gov/directory/eospso_members/h_zwally.php

            Why don’t you email him and explain to him why he’s “full of it.”


          • daveburton

            Your video of a presentation by a guy who has not published these results in a peer-reviewed paper :

            1) never addresses the *net mass* of all the ice in the arctic. He never talks about it!

            2) He uses altimetry, which doesn’t directly address mass

            3 Is contradicted by this published report from a peer-reviewed journal which uses GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) – a gravimetric technique which DOES measure mass…. and which confirms the conclusion that:

            a) In Antarctica the mass loss increased from 104 Gt/yr in 2002–2006 to 246 Gt/yr in 2006–2009, i.e., an acceleration of −26 ± 14 Gt/yr2 in 2002–2009.

            And here is NASA itself confirming the net ice loss at nearly 200 Gt/yr: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2008-010

            And here is Chen using both GRACE and altimetry, showing net ice mass loss in Antarctica: http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v2/n12/full/ngeo694.html

            Land ice loss exceeds small gain in sea ice mass – Chen confirms *net* ice loss

            And Rignot, et al 2011 also confirms net ice mass loss in Antarctic:

            “When we use the extended time period 1992-2009, the significance of the trend improves considerably. The MBM record indicates an acceleration in mass loss of 21.9 ± 1 Gt/yr^2 for Greenland and 14.5 ± 2 Gt/yr^2 for Antarctica… ”

            Rignot, E., et al. (2011): Acceleration of the contribution of the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets to sea level rise. Geophysical Research Letters, in press, doi:10.1029/2011GL046583.


          • sorry, first refewrence on GRACE data is:

            Velicogna, I. (2009): Increasing rates of ice mass loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets revealed by GRACE. Geophysical Research Letters, 36, L19503, doi:10.1029/2009GL040222.

          • daveburton Says:

            Roger says, “And here is NASA itself confirming the net ice loss at nearly 200 Gt/yr: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2008-010

            Roger, that’s from 2008. NASA’s most recent information, from its best satellite data, which is presented in that new 2012 video, is that Antarctica is gaining ice mass.

            Now, it is certainly possible that when we get data from ICEsat-2 in a few years, it might show the opposite. After all, Most Published Research Findings Are False. But, for now, the latest and best data NASA has indicates that Antarctica is gaining ice mass, not losing it.

            Hey, that’s good news! So why aren’t you happy?


          • Daveburton: “This is the opening slide:
            Mass Balance of the Antarctic Ice Sheet 1992-2008 from ERS and ICESAT: Gains exceed losses by Jay Zwally, NASA Goddard, USA”
            Which he talks about his paper

            Zwally, H. Jay and Mario B. Giovinetto, 2011, “Overview and Assessment of Antarctic Ice-Sheet Mass Balance Estimates: 1992-2009”, Surveys in Geophysics, Volume 32, Numbers 4-5, pp 351-376, DOI 10.1007/s10712-011-9123-5. http://icesat4.gsfc.nasa.gov/cryo_data/publications/Zwally-Giovinetto_SurveysInGeophysics_2011-1.pdf

            ….Our preferred estimate for 1992-2001 is -47 Gt/year for West Antarctica, +16 Gt/year for East Antarctica, and -31 Gt/year overall (+0.1 mm/year SLE), not including part of the Antarctic Peninsula (1.07% of the AIS area).

            At the Ice-Sheet Mass Balance and Sea Level (ISMASS) Workshop July 2012
            In the clip you posted he is talking about his paper above; error ranges; ice lose; and Ice flows

            From Mass Gains of the Antarctic Ice Sheet Exceed Losses http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=20120013495

            During 2003 to 2008, the mass gain of the Antarctic ice sheet from snow accumulation exceeded the mass loss from ice discharge by 49 Gt/yr (2.5% of input), as derived from ICESat laser measurements of elevation change. The net gain (86 Gt/yr) over the West Antarctic (WA) and East Antarctic ice sheets (WA and EA) is essentially unchanged from revised results for 1992 to 2001 from ERS radar altimetry. Imbalances in individual drainage systems (DS) are large (-68% to +103% of input), as are temporal changes (-39% to +44%). The recent 90 Gt/yr loss from three DS (Pine Island, Thwaites-Smith, and Marie-Bryd Coast) of WA exceeds the earlier 61 Gt/yr loss, consistent with reports of accelerating ice flow and dynamic thinning. Similarly, the recent 24 Gt/yr loss from three DS in the Antarctic Peninsula (AP) is consistent with glacier accelerations following breakup of the Larsen B and other ice shelves. In contrast, net increases in the five other DS of WA and AP and three of the 16 DS in East Antarctica (EA) exceed the increased losses. Alternate interpretations of the mass changes driven by accumulation variations are given using results from atmospheric-model re-analysis and a parameterization based on 5% change in accumulation per degree of observed surface temperature change. A slow increase in snowfall with climate waRMing, consistent with model predictions, may be offsetting increased dynamic losses.

            In short from all the articles about Antarctic ice sheet that I have read is this. The Antarctic(a) is warming and is expecting to warm more. This will cause both increases in both snow fall (ice gain) and Ice melt (loss). The item to watch is the flow speeds rate (rate of change) which is a better indicator of the overall health of Antarctica IMO. I can see it changing back and forth on mass gain and loss. You keep claiming that we are not warming the planet but the sources you claim contradict you. Are you saying Jay is claiming that Antarctica is not warming and is expected to warm?

            Your logic is this! It is winter in July in New Zealand and it is winter in January in New York therefore; this disproves summers.

          • daveburton Says:

            Anthropogenic climate change passenger wrote, “You keep claiming that we are not warming the planet…”

            Please don’t make up things I’ve never said and attribute them to me.

            Anthropogenic climate change passenger wrote, “Are you saying Jay is claiming that Antarctica is not warming and is expected to warm?”

            Of course not. Jay Zwally is a well-known warmist, who once predicted that the Arctic “could be nearly ice-free” by now. (Oops!)

            I’m saying that he said what he said, which was on his opening/title slides:

            “Mass Balance of the Antarctic Ice Sheet 1992-2008 from ERS and ICESAT: Gains exceed losses”

    • jasonpettitt Says:

      “There’s no mention at all of the record high Antarctic sea ice extent”

      That’s because all the Antarctic squirrels in the world won’t have any affect on albedo (http://youtu.be/CEAcSIaDQQ0). None at all. Zilch. Nadda. Nothing. It’s been winter/night time in Antarctic

      “There’s no mention of the big August storm that broke up the Arctic ice.”

      A storm! In the Arctic Ocean!! Forsooth!!! Storms happen in the Arctic Ocean. You’d be amazed. If you think weather is throwing one year’s results (there was nothing special about 2012) then stick to the trend.

      “There’s no mention of the fact that the Antarctic is a better climate indicator than the Arctic.”

      Because the actual proper scientists who livebreathsleep Antarctic say that the Antarctic is a poor indicator of global climate due to a great big hole in the Ozone Layer directly above it – resulting in local conditions quite separate to what is happening globally (http://planetearth.nerc.ac.uk/news/story.aspx?id=612).

      “There’s no mention of the fact that, as an albedo-based feedback mechanism, Antarctic ice is more important than Arctic ice”

      We’ve done this already. It’s winter – there’s no sun to albedo.

      “It includes the lie that the satellite record doesn’t start until 1979”

      They’re out to get you Dave. 1979 marks the start of the continuous dataset from the passive microwave record. A consistent data set that is useful for year to year climate comparisons.

      Don’t forget that we can go back much (http://tamino.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/kinnard_2011_sea_ice.jpg?w=500), much (http://bprc.osu.edu/geo/publications/polyak_etal_seaice_QSR_10.pdf) further than 1979.

      “It even discusses albedo-based feedback (though without using the term), but nevertheless doesn’t mention the fact that the as an albedo-based feedback mechanism, Antarctic ice is more important than Arctic ice.”

      Again!?! It’s winter Dave. Round the clock night time for month after month. Literally no sun and no Albedo effect.

      So what are the chances we’ll get a daveburton comment saying “sorry guys, I got it all wrong. My bad…”

      • daveburton Says:

        jasonpettitt wrote, “all the Antarctic squirrels in the world won’t have any affect on albedo… None at all. Zilch. Nadda. Nothing. It’s been winter/night time in Antarctic”

        That’s completely wrong, Jason. The equinox was 9/22/2012. In both hemispheres the minimum and maximum sea ice extents are centered on the equinoxes. W/r/t albedo feedback, the minimum and maximum ice extents are equally important.

        However, the Antarctic (Southern Ocean) sea ice extents are more important than the Arctic sea ice extents, because sea ice in the Southern Ocean is at less extreme latitudes, so it gets sunlight at less acute angles.

        • jasonpettitt Says:

          The CHANGE in summer minimum IS defined by (and is an indicator of) changes in the summer melt SEASON when albedo affects the radiation budget. The CHANGE in winter maximum IS NOT.

          It’s not that hard Dave.

          I almost can’t be bothered to point out that It hardly matters that, unlike the Arctic Summer Minimum, changes in the winter maximum in the Antarctic are ALSO so tiny and insignificant that they have next to no effect the radiation budget.

          What I am arguing is the following:

          CHANGES in Antarctic Ice Extent are best explained by examining local conditions. The CHANGES at the Arctic are best explained as a response to Global Warming.

          The CHANGE in both Extent and Sea Ice Albedo Forcing at the Antarctic is tiny. At the Arctic it is substantial.

          The two poles are, literally and figuratively poles apart. One does not ‘balance’ the other.

          It’s a sorry day when any human being lowers themselves so far as to try and publicly argue that all records are quantitatively and qualitatively equivalent because of the appearance of the word ‘record’.

          • jasonpettitt Says:

            For anyone interested, a back of the envelope calculation by Tamino (http://tamino.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/sea-ice-insolation/) shows us that, contrary to Dave Burton’s claims…

            “the Antarctic (Southern Ocean) sea ice extents are more important than the Arctic sea ice extents, because sea ice in the Southern Ocean is at less extreme latitudes, so it gets sunlight at less acute angles.”

            …the CHANGE in Sea Ice albedo forcing at the Arctic is about 6 times greater than the change at the Antarctic.

            Dave is wrong to tell us that the Antarctic Sea Ice Maximum is comparable to the Arctic minimum – there’s very little change in the maximum, no discernible trend and it is only the minimum that reflects (excuse the pun) the all important melt season where sea ice influences the albedo forcing.

            Dave is wrong to tell us that Antarctic Ice is more important than Arctic Ice for Albedo. Accounting for latitude and orbital angles the change in Albedo forcing is about six times greater at the Arctic.

            He’s wrong to tell us that the Antarctic is comparable to the Arctic as an indicator of Global Climate Change – the Antarctic climate is still dominated by unique local factors.

            Reference to the Antarctic would have as much place providing balance in the PBS piece as reference to Stoke on Trent.

            He’s also wrong to tell us that sea level rise isn’t accelerating (http://tamino.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/unnatural-hazards/). He’s even jumped the gun and got the wrong end of the stick on Antarctic Ice Mass, but that’s another story for another day.


    • The Antarctic ice is not a “balance” for the Arctic ice — it is 1/4th the scale, and it is a very different situation. There is more precipitation because there is more moisture in the atmosphere.

      Listen to this for a more info:

      http://onpoint.wbur.org/2012/09/24/a-new-low-for-arctic-ice

      Neil

      • daveburton Says:

        Neil, where did you get the idea that the ice around Antarctica is “1/4 the scale” if the Arctic ice?

        Actually, average sea ice extent near Antarctica is very similar to the average Northern hemisphere sea ice extent. They both average around 9 million sq-km, over a year. The global summed sea-ice extent averages around 18 million sq-km:

        Here’s the Southern hemisphere (Southern Ocean / Antarctica):

        maximum = ~ 16 million sq-km

        Here’s the Northern hemisphere (Arctic ocean and surrounding basins):

        maximum = ~ 13 million sq-km

        Plus, as I previously mentioned, from an albedo-based climate feedback perspective, Arctic ice is less important than Antarctic ice, because the average latitude is more extreme for Arctic ice, so it gets less direct sunlight.

        Plus, as I previously mentioned, Arctic sea ice is much more susceptible to non-climate-related shift, due to the vagaries of wind and weather. Even a single big storm can have a major effect on Arctic ice, as happened this year:


        This year, a powerful cyclone formed off the coast of Alaska and moved on Aug. 5 to the center of the Arctic Ocean, where it churned the weakened ice cover for several days. The storm cut off a large section of sea ice north of the Chukchi Sea and pushed it south to warmer waters that made it melt entirely. It also broke vast extensions of ice into smaller pieces more likely to melt.

        http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2012-seaicemin.html

        But Antarctica anchors ice in the Southern Ocean, and no single storm can affect the whole expanse, because there’s a continent in the middle. So Southern Ocean (Antarctic) sea ice extent is a better indicator of the effects of climate than is Arctic ice.

        • greenman3610 Says:

          climate deniers would like you to believe there have never been any storms or wind in the arctic
          before this year.

          • daveburton Says:

            Climate alarmists would like you to believe:
            * that there’s 1/4 as much sea ice surrounding Antarctica as there is in the Arctic Ocean, and
            * that that latitude of the ice doesn’t matter w/r/t albedo feedback, and
            * that huge summer cyclones are not unusual at the North Pole

            They’re in denial. How about you, Peter? Do you believe any of those three silly things?

            {voice of Jeff Foxworthy} You might be a denier if…

  3. Lee Pillow Says:

    And like magic, I give you the first of the denier horde….

    Sooooo predictable!

    /eyeroll

  4. daveburton Says:

    Lee, you’re drifting from the script. A “hoard” is more than 3%.

  5. Jean Mcmahon Says:

    Anyhow I like the use of the term “Air conditioner of the Earth”..It gets the picture across so people can understand more easily what we are loosing

  6. Ian Orchard Says:

    I’d check to see whether any ice mass gains in Antarctica aren’t the result of snowfall, a rare occurrence on a continent noted for its dryness. The millions of cubic kilometres of ice down there have accumulated veery slowly from ice crystals dropping from the stratosphere, not from rain/snow blowing in from the surrounding oceans.
    Note also that the enormous mass of ice gives it far more thermal inertia than the Arctic ocean, so we can expect changes to occur much slower than in the northern hemisphere. The fact that changes are occurring, like accelerating glaciers, ice shelf breakups or snow, suggests a heads-up is overdue. Not a time for going into denial.

  7. jayzwally Says:

    Very good commentary by:

    Anthropogenic climate change passenger Says:

    September 25, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    about our Antarctic mass balance paper.

    Antarctic is losing more mass in the parts (Antarctic Peninsula) and the coast of West Antarctica that are showing the largest climate warming. East Antarctica and other parts are gaining mass and have been for a very long time. Because those parts are very cold all year, and climate warming there is small, no significant ongoing change in mass loss and gain there.

    Jay Zwally


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