Sunday, September 30th 2012, 3:52 PM EDT
There is more frozen ocean surrounding Antarctica than has ever been measured. That’s right, after all the shouting and hand waving about the new record low amount of sea ice in the Arctic this summer, Antarctic sea ice has ballooned to a new record high. Mother Nature does seem to have an interesting sense of humor when it comes to the freezing of sea water. Back in 2007 the amount of sea ice left over at the end of the summer in the Arctic at the top of the world was the lowest since the satellite measurements began in 1979.
At the same time the amount of sea ice surrounding Antarctica at the bottom of the world set a new record for the most sea ice. That record large amount of ice got almost no attention, all the talk was about how little ice was left in the Arctic at the end of the melt season. Advance five years later to 2012 and the same thing has happened again. We have record low ice extent in the Arctic and record large ice extent surrounding Antarctica. Who knew that Mother Nature has such a bemusing sense of humor!
As regular readers of Energy Tribune will recall, my story last month “Arctic sea ice record is broken” revealed that even though the amount of sea ice in the Arctic was at a measured record low amount this summer, it was an unusually large storm that generated pounding waves that broke up the ice and helped set the record, not excessive melting. Dr. Bill Gray, the father of seasonal hurricane forecasting, said “this article should be required reading by everyone”.
The problem with all of these frantic stories being written about Arctic sea ice melt is that they all assume that man made global warming, caused by emissions of carbon dioxide, is the cause. These stories never delve into anything other than the standard “it’s our fault and we better do something about it” drum beat. Although nature seems to be balancing the ice loss at the top and the bottom of the world, there is no such balance in the world of publishing and television. Whenever we set a record for large amounts of sea ice the media world seems compelled to find a reason why this does not contradict man made global warming. As I learned many years ago when I was a young meteorologist working in local television the expression “never let the truth get in the way of a good story.” rings just as true today as it did 30 years ago.
Our (your?) government is one of the most vocal cheerleaders in the “ice loss is our fault” horror show. The NASA website has a page titled “What’s holding Antarctic sea ice back from melting”. The very first sentence ignores the reality that there has been no measured global warming since 1998. The site says that there are different theories as to why Antarctic sea ice is increasing. One theory is that ozone depletion is cooling the stratosphere and that this is somehow increasing the winds over Antarctica. The site goes on to say that these strong winds are causing more ice to form is some areas and less in others.
The assumption is that all this change in ice volume is being caused by the ozone hole over Antarctica. What NASA does not say is that the ozone hole, supposedly caused by humans, was discovered by accident and nobody really knows how long it’s been there. Another fact is that the ozone hole is only over Antarctic in the winter. When the sun comes back above the horizon in the Antarctic summer ozone production re-develops and the hole is filled in. The ozone hole over Antarctica is only there half of the year. That’s another one of the problems with the promoters of man made global warming, they only tell you the part of the story they want you to hear, not the whole story.
The NASA site goes on to proclaim that warmer ocean temperatures are playing a role in the expansion of Antarctic sea ice. A look at the water temperature anomalies off the coast of Antarctica since 2007 show no marked warming trend and are currently running colder than the long term average. By the end of the page it is apparent that these are only theories and that NASA doesn’t know why the sea ice surrounding Antarctica is increasing. However, the flavor of the story is that even though we don’t know why the ice is increasing it must have something to do with global warming (that the measurements show is not happening and has not been happening for over a decade.)
So the amount of sea ice around Antarctica is growing and it’s a mystery as to why. The fundamental question remains the same: Is Antarctica warming? The satellite measured temperature trend since the late 1970s shows that there has been areas of warming but also areas of cooling. The overall temperature trend since actual satellite measurements have been made shows no trend either up or down across the coldest place on earth for the last three and a half decades. It should be emphasized that even where there is a warming trend these temperatures are still well below freezing even along the coast in the summer and that the temperature drops rapidly just a short distance inland from the ice/ocean interface.
Climate models attempt to predict what the future temperature of our world will look like decades into the future. These models make many significant assumptions about how the climate system of our world works. If any of these important assumptions are incorrect it will have a detrimental effect on any future predictions rendering any results useless. For example, climate models have failed to predict the increase in Antarctic sea ice and in fact have predicted the opposite.
Real world measurements are the best tools we have at our disposal to monitor what impacts, if any, our use of fossil fuels is having on earth’s climate. Measured temperature increase has stopped for over a decade despite large increases in carbon dioxide. Loss and gain of sea ice in the Arctic is directly tied to cycles of warming and cooling ocean temperatures. Antarctic sea ice is increasing. Antarctic temperature is not increasing. The number of hurricanes around the world is not increasing and the strength of hurricanes worldwide is decreasing. It can’t be stated enough that this election offers two very different choices for our energy future. Develop what we know works, produces millions of jobs and grows our economy dramatically or plunge into the murky world of unreliable so called renewables that have been failing at a staggering rate and at unsustainable cost. I hope we choose wisely.
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