Thursday, March 20, 2014

Article on Polar Sea Ice Surprises, Puzzles

I have an article that just went up on the Yale Forum on Climate Change & the Media, about some of the surprises and puzzles regarding polar sea ice.


Paul S said...

The difference is even more puzzling, however, because sea surface temperatures in the Southern Ocean have been increasing since the middle part of the last century.

I've seen this kind of statement a few times, usually in reference to Liu and Curry, but there seems to be a mismatch of timelines. Liu and Curry refer to warming between 1950 and 1999 whereas Antarctic sea ice data is available from 1979 to present.

SST data for the Southern Ocean indicates warming since 1950 but the trend since 1979 is flat to slightly negative.

J Melcher said...

Hmm. Of course there is only one "knob" on the climate machine, so the fact that human industrial waste in the form of soot or "black carbon" is largely precipitated onto the Arctic, which is shrinking, and is largely absent from the Antarctic, which is growing, can't possibly be considered as a hypothetical solution to the puzzle you've correctly identified.

The fact that it is easier and cheaper to reduce soot emissions than CO2 emissions has no impact on policy, either, I suppose?

The fact that Arctic ice floating on the ocean does NOT raise sea-level if and when it melts has no affect on global scenarios regarding said sea level? Nor that water vapor accumulating, as ice, on Antarctic land masses tend, over long periods, to lower sea-level should similarly not be mentioned, less that fact confuse policy makers?

Don't get me wrong, David, you've sketched out an interesting puzzle. It reminds me of the bit about "how can this wonder of an elephant be so very like a spear?"

David Appell said...

J Melcher: You have been wrong here about so many things I've lost count.

Neptune was just the latest.

I'm not going beyond that -- it's pointless, because it never ends with the scientifically ignorant.

David Appell said...

Paul: I am thinking about your comment, and will be back on that. I also had some concerns of my own while writing my article.

Meanwhile, this new paper is relevant:

"Recent Antarctic sea ice trends in the context of Southern Ocean surface climate variations since 1950," Tingting Fan et al, GRL (2014)