Global Cooling: Antarctic Sea Ice Coverage Continues To Break Records

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By Michael Bastasch Published: May 12, 2014

Someone let Al Gore know the south pole isn’t melting. Antarctic sea ice coverage reached record levels for April, hitting 3.5 million square miles — the largest on record.

It was a cold summer down in Antarctica, with sea ice coverage growing about 43,500 square miles a day, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSDC). April 2014 beats the previous sea ice coverage record from April 2008 by a whopping 124,000 square miles.

But even with Autumn in full swing in the south pole, “record levels continue to be set in early May,” reports the NSDC. Sea ice levels have been “significantly above” satellite data averages for 16 consecutive months.

The most pronounced growth in sea ice coverage is in the eastern Weddell Sea and areas south of Australia and along the southeastern Indian Ocean, according to NSDC. And temperatures in the Weddell Sea region have been 1 to 2 degrees Celsius below the 1981 to 2010 average during March and April. Similar cooling trends have lowered average temperatures along the southern Indian Ocean by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius.

“However, across much of the far Southern Hemisphere, temperatures have been above average: for example, in the southern Antarctic Peninsula, temperatures have been 1 to 2 degrees Celsius (2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit) above average; in the southern South Pacific, temperatures have been 1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius (3 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit) above average, and up to 4 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit) above average in the area near the South Pole,” NSDC notes.

Antarctica has seen huge sea ice growth throughout this year and last, which caught many climate scientists by surprise — some more literally than others.

In late December, a group of tourists and climate scientists got caught in Antarctic ice pack about 1,500 miles south of Tasmania. The expedition sought to document how global warming has changed the region in the last century, but instead made world headlines for getting stuck in record levels of ice.

“We’re stuck in our own experiment,” the Australasian Antarctic Expedition said in a statement. “We came to Antarctica to study how one of the biggest icebergs in the world has altered the system by trapping ice.”

The expedition was eventually rescued by helicopter and brought back to Australia. To make a bad trip worse, the ice breaker that rescued the expeditionaries also got stuck in some ice on its way back.

But while eastern areas of Antarctica are growing rapidly, scientists are warning that the continent’s western ice sheet has begun to collapse.

“Today we present observational evidence that the [ice sheet] has gone into irreversible retreat,” said Eric Rignot, the lead author of a study claiming the ice sheet was collapsing. “It has reached the point of no return.”

Rignot told reporters at a press conference hosted by NASA that the slow collpase of the glacier could raise sea levels between 10 and 13 feet.

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  • MrsNicholson925

    Someones needs to let Meryl Streep know the polar bears are okay too.
    Her voice in “Into the Arctic” pleading for the bears as my children were indoctrinated at the Science Center in an iMax movie.
    I cleared it up after we had left, but someone should really let her know.

    • George

      You surprise me by believing they care about facts! It is all about control and facts have nothing to do with it.

  • londontubes

    As an ancient Greek Scientist noted, if an iceberg claves off the Antarctic ice shelves, the instant it hits the water (if these people are to be belived), the ocean levels will rise by “10 to 13 feet”. If you don’t understand it, look it up.

    When I was in school, they told me that 32 degrees was where water froze, and above 32 degrees is where it melts. Some interesting information about Antarctica.
    The mean annual temperature of the interior is −70. The coast is warmer. Monthly means at McMurdo Station range from −14.8 in August to 26.6 in January, both of which seem to be below freezing.

    At the South, the highest temperature ever recorded was -9.9 on 25 December 2011. Along theAntarctic Peninsula the summer temperature is usually below 32.

    That’s a little to cold for me, and i think I would freeze my ___ off. :-)

  • Roy Clingenpeel

    Well Al Gore was never know for his intelligence, Grade school kids can out spell him. He had trouble as a leader , just ask his riverboat crew. Seams like ice is beyond his comprehension also. Probably flunked celestial interaction and effect on earths weather patterns too. He needs to put his nose in a book before he puts his foot in his mouth and verify his facts with authentic scientist instead of political activists.

    • John OMalia

      What river boat crew? Oh, and ice takes up more space than water, that’s why it floats. Water is more dense. So I’d opine the more ice there is the higher the ocean’s level.

      • jimpeel

        Fill a glass with ice cubes and then top the glass off with water until you have a slight positive meniscus. Leave the glass to thaw. Did the water overflow from the ice melting? No. The ice is merely water, which has expanded from freezing that is displacing the water in the glass. The positive meniscus will have become negative. Just plain physics.

        • John OMalia

          My glass overflowed, I tried that experiment in grade school. What river boat crew?

          • jimpeel

            Not from sea ice. The ice on the land mass that is Antarctica would cause a rise. I do not foresee that mass melting unless the Earth shifts on it’s axis to expose the poles to more sunlight. The current tilt is 23.4 degrees. A mere .1 degree difference would have a devastating effect on the total climate of the Earth.

  • Cornville

    With all due respect to those who believe in the bible narrative about the age of the earth,6-6500 years old, If one believes that the world is 4-5 billion years old or older, then one also has to believe that the earth has witnessed numerous changes in temperature, ice ages, and animals such as the dinosaurs appearing and disappearing. Global warming or global cooling is part of the earth’s fabric. God who created the world, will not allow his creation to be spoiled by a few degrees here, and a few there. It is all part of the basic narrative of why we are here. In other worlds, there is nothing to worry about as long as we all have faith in our creator.

  • jimpeel

    In late December, a group of tourists and climate scientists got caught in Antarctic ice pack about 1,500 miles south of Tasmania. The expedition sought to document how global warming has changed the region in the last century, but instead made world headlines for getting stuck in record levels of ice.

    On the day they got stuck they were 2 miles from open water. The next day they were 13 miles from open water. The ice was growing at that accelerated rate.