New Video: Antarctic versus Arctic Ice – Apples and Oranges
November 8, 2012
This is the latest video I’ve produced for the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media.
The template for climate-skeptic responses to bad weather and climate news, like, well, what we’ve seen recently in the northeast, is to quickly trot out some plausible sounding “experts” on Fox News and talk radio, to give plausible sounding boilerplate explanations for whatever is latest in what’s become, for the last 3 or 4 years, a steady parade of extreme weather, unseasonal oddities, and geophysical black swans.
As scientists further investigate the unlikely confluence of forces that came together to produce Superstorm Sandy, a prime area of interest will be the effects of vast expanses of relatively warm Arctic Ocean water that have in recent years been uncovered by disappearing polar sea ice. Last spring, I reported here on my conversations with scientists like Dr Jennifer Francis, whose recent work has focused on the effects of arctic warmth on the jet stream. In a September interview, Dr. Francis, noting this year’s spectacular collapse in arctic sea ice, looked forward to an “interesting” fall and winter. And so it has been.
But for climate skeptics, the go-to talking point in discussions of arctic sea ice has for several years been, “but sea ice around Antarctica, in the south, is growing”, implying that the whole thing is a wash, the planet’s net energy balance is stable, and “alarmists” are cherry picking the arctic numbers to distort the picture.
The most reliable graph of global sea ice, used by just about everyone, is easily available at the University of Illinois Cryosphere Today site, and makes it clear that for the last several decades, the general trend of global sea ice is down. To further confirm that, I talked to Dr. Claire Parkinson, of the Goddard Space Flight Center, and Dr. Marilyn Raphael, an Antarctic sea ice expert at UCLA.
The video is a quick, informative 7 minutes, and I hope, worth your time – but, spoiler alert, here’s the cliff notes synopsis:
Q. Bottom line. Is there more or less sea ice globally, now, than there was 30 years ago?
Dr. Parkinson: There is less sea ice globally now than there was 30 years ago.