Arctic and Antarctic Ice Increases; Antarctic at record levels

Good news if you like ice. I’m happy to report that there has been a continued increase in the extent of both Antarctic and Arctic Ice sheets, in particular the Antarctic sheet. Shown below is a plot of Antarctic ice size (1981-2010) along with the average (the black line), the size for 2012 (dotted line), and the size for 2013 so far. This year (2013) it’s broken new records. Hooray for the ice.

Antarctic ice at record size in 2013, after breaking records in 2012

Antarctic ice at record size in 2013, after a good year in 2012

The arctic ice has grown too, and though it’s not at record levels, the Arctic ice growth  is more visually dramatic, see photo below. It’s also more welcome — to polar bears at least. It’s not so welcome if you are a yachter, or a shipping magnate trying to use the Northwest passage to get your products to market cheaply.

Arctic Ice August 2012-2013

Arctic Ice August 2012-2013

The recent (October 2013) global warming report from NASA repeats the Arctic melt warnings from previous reports, but supports that assertion with an older satellite picture — the one from 2006. That was a year when the Arctic had even less ice than in 2012, but the date should be a warning. From the picture, you’d think it’s an easy sail through the Northwest passage; some 50 yachts tried it this summer, and none got through, though some got half way. It’s a good bet you can buy those ships cheap.

I should mention that only the Antarctic data is relevant to Al Gore’s 1996 prediction of a 20 foot rise in the sea level by 2100. Floating ice, as in the arctic, displaces the same amount of mass as water. Ice floats but has the same effect on sea level as if it were melted; it’s only land-based ice that affects sea level. While there is some growth seen in land-ice in the arctic photos above — compare Greenland and Canada on the 2 photos, there is also a lot of glacier ice loss in Norway (upper left corners). The ocean levels are rising, but I don’t think this is the cause, and it’s not rising anywhere near as fast as Al Gore said: more like 1.7mm/year, or 6.7 inches per century. I don’t know what the cause is, BTW. Perhaps I’ll post speculate on this when I have a good speculation.

Other good news: For the past 15 years global warming appears to have taken a break. And the ozone hole shrunk in 2012 to near record smallness. Yeah ozone. The most likely model for all this, in my opinion, is to view weather as chaotic and fractal; that is self-similar. Calculus works on this, just not the calculus that’s typically taught in school. Whatever the cause, its good news, and welcome.

Robert E. Buxbaum, October 21, 2013. Here are some thoughts about how to do calculus right, and how to do science right; that is, look at the data first; don’t come in with a hypothesis.