The Arctic and Antarctic sea ice extent in 2012

This is the 2012 sea ice extent for both the Arctic and the Antarctic. The day of year and the calendar day are at the bottom.

I chose 2012 only because it is the most recent complete year in this data set.

My reason for making this video is because there have been a couple of huge news stories recently about the West Antarctic Ice Sheet:

On 12 May 2014 we heard that for all intents and purposes the West Antarctic Ice sheet is doomed (here is the primary research which is open access).

Then on 19 May 2014 we were told that Cryosat observations had shown that the loss of ice from Antarctica had increased quite a lot (here is the primary research).

For excellent commentary on these stories you can visit Carbon Brief, or Antarctic glaciers.org.

But whenever there is a big story about the decay of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet - which remember is land based glacial ice, some instantly point to this being not important because sea ice in Antarctica has been at record levels.

People who suggest that the observed decrease in glacial ice is somehow balanced by the observed increase in Antarctic sea ice extent are wrong. The sea ice is generally only a couple of metres thick and it is telling us quite a different climate story.

Over the next few posts I will try and explain why the decrease of Arctic sea ice is not balanced by an increase in Antarctic sea ice extent, and why there is no contradiction in glacial ice at the edge of the Antarctic continent decaying whilst simultaneously the sea ice is  at record extent.

 

[If anyone want the clip, also the Arctic and Antarctic as separate files in various large sizes and formats just send me an email at my work address - you will find a link on the "About me" page. And I will send you a dropbox link. I am a big fan of Creative Commons and Open Educational Resources. ]

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The data is from the US Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP), and the data is freely accessible from the National Snow and Ice data Centre.

 

11 thoughts on “The Arctic and Antarctic sea ice extent in 2012

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  2. This is pretty irresponsible blogging for a scientist.

    The "West Antarctic ice sheet is doomed"? Where did you get that from? The BBC article doesn't say that. The paper talks about retreats of some glaciers but makes no such claim.

    When will you learn that this type of hype makes people more sceptical and contributes to the lack of trust in you and your colleagues and the entire field?

    Reply
    1. Mark Brandon

      Post author

      Thanks for your comment Paul.

      You do misinterpret me.

      I am sorry, I didn't think I was "hyping" anything, or being irresponsible. I paraphrased and reported what the BBC article said

      " "We present observational evidence that a large section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has gone into a state of irreversible retreat; it has passed the point of no return," the agency glaciologist explained."

      to me

      "state of irreversible retreat; it has passed the point of no return" can be paraphrased as doomed. Apologies if that offends you.

      I also linked to two excellent blog posts (Carbon Brief + Antarctic Glaciers which offer more explanation and context.

      I didn't write the post or make the movie to gain trust from anyone, but I am sorry if you feel disappointed.

      I also think that I don't speak for my "colleagues" or the "entire field".

      Reply
      1. timescale!!

        doomed - collapse messages in the media makes it sound like tomorrow, or within lifetimes. not hundred/thousands of years away...

        Reply
          1. Mark Brandon

            Post author

            For the answer to your specific question, I would suggest Rignot's paper which is open access.

    2. MikeH

      @Paul Matthews

      That is a pretty ridiculous comment coming from - well from anyone really.

      Do you have a reading comprehension problem or is this one of those semantic games which fake skeptics love to play hoping to create controversy where there is none

      This is what Eric Rignot, the paper's author said as quoted in the BBC article
      "We present observational evidence that a large section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has gone into a state of irreversible retreat; it has passed the point of no return,"

      When will **you** learn that people laugh at your lame attempts to play down or deny the latest scientific evidence for AGW.

      Reply
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