Sea Ice South (1): A little geography

By: Dr. Ricky Rood , 06:11 AM GMT die 09o May, anno 2011

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Sea Ice South (1): A little geography

My last entry was on the decline of sea ice in the Arctic and how this is forming an entirely new environment in the Arctic. It’s an environment of open water in the summer and a freezing sea in the winter - perhaps, a little like the Great Lakes. Now I am going to start a series on trying to untangle the difficult subject of sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere.

As many know the sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere has been increasing for the past few years. Here is a picture from the National Snow and Ice Data Center.




Figure 1: Areal extent of April sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere from 1979 – 2011. (figure from National Snow and Ice Data Center)

This figure shows a plot of April monthly averages of the area of the ocean covered by ice. There is a lot of variability from year to year, and if you take an average of all the years, the amount of ocean covered by sea ice has increased in the last three decades. From 2006 to 2011 the variability is high, and it will be interesting to see if the apparent oscillation continues over the next five years.

This increase of sea ice has entered the political discussion in different ways. Most notably, it has been paired with the Arctic sea ice in plots to show that the global sea ice is remaining approximately constant. The political argument goes - hence, there is not trend; hence, the climate alarmists have isolated their attention on the Arctic to carry forward a political argument. This pairing of North and South to conclude that sea ice decrease is inconsequential is a deceptive political argument. It mixes northern summer with southern winter; hence, warm season and cold season in a way that is, from the point of view of the physical scientist, incorrect. It also dismisses the vast impact on ecosystems and regional climate that is occurring in the Arctic. The processes that determine the energy budget of sea ice in the northern and southern hemisphere are quite different. This series is my attempt to break down this complexity well enough that I can understand it.

In both my dynamics class and my climate change class, I constantly remind students of the geography of the Earth. The weather and climate of the Earth is largely determined by the energy received from the Sun, the rotation of the Earth, and the distribution of land, water, ice and air. Of special importance is the height and location of mountain ranges. Here’s an old map I like looking down on the South Pole.




Figure 2: Map of the South Pole and the Southern Ocean from the year 1894. (figure from Perry-Castañeda University of Texas Library Map Collection)

The first thing to note is that the South Pole is in the continent Antarctica, which is land (and ice). Compared with the oceanic North Pole, the ocean cannot carry heat all the way to the pole. The second thing to note is that Antarctica is high and steep. This strongly influences atmospheric storms. These two geographical facts mean that the atmosphere and ocean might carry heat to the edge of Antarctica, but the center of the continent is, perhaps, a bit isolated or protected.

There is another critically important aspect of the geography, which is suggested on the map by the dashed line labeled “average limit of floating ice.” Also note the parts of the ocean labeled “Antarctic Drift.” This section of ocean completely encircles the Earth with no land barrier. It gets narrow at the tip of South America. It is especially notable at, say, the tip of Africa the way the Agulhas Current gets swept away in the Antarctic drift. Remember, this map is from 1894 – I think it makes my points solidly.

We see here in the Southern Hemisphere, atmospheric storms that start in the warm north and propagate southward towards Antarctica. They travel through this open water around the continent, Antarctica. They are steered and broken up by the steep edge of Antarctica. The stress of these storms on the surface of the ocean causes the ocean to “drift” from west to east. This is a far different situation from the Arctic, where there is no land at the pole and a mix of land and ocean around the edge of the Arctic ocean. (see another old map at this old blog )

So this is the set up - the geography makes the northern and southern poles distinctly different places. How, then, do we think about the formation and destruction of sea ice? We have to think about energy, just like in the last blog. The atmosphere and ocean bring and take away heat. There is fresh (light) and salt (heavy) water. There is rain and snow (energy and fresh water). There is ice melting in Antarctica. And there is, in fact, a fundamental difference in the radiative forcing – ozone. In the Southern Hemisphere there is the ozone hole. Often we forget that ozone is, in fact, an important greenhouse gas. With all of this - is there any reason to expect sea ice to behave the same in the northern and southern hemisphere? With all of this - is it at all scientifically honest to mash together sea ice observations from the north and south, summer and winter, and talk about them as one?

OK – I think that is a reasonable foundation.

r


Useful links
Recent sea ice trends
Sea ice data
Rood’s Blogs on Ice

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212. cyclonebuster
08:43 PM GMT die 13o May, anno 2011
Quoting Snowlover123:


No, Cyclonebuster... you didn't look at the context of what I said...

"Cyclone, a lot of those regional Arctic Sea Ice anomalies are pretty close to normal, yet it is "not acceptable..."

The map you presented was the National Snow and Ice Data Center's Map, not NASA's.



LOL big difference!


About NSIDC: Sponsors

Our supporters fund data management and scientific research at the project level. For example, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) supports the NSIDC Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC) and funds the production and distribution of remote-sensing data sets. The National Science Foundation (NSF) provides data management for scientists doing polar research. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides support for management of NOAA data sets at NSIDC and has funded many of the center's data-rescue activities.

NASA, NOAA and NSF, as well as additional sources of funding, support NSIDC scientists and outreach activities through competitive grants and contracts

NSIDC is part of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The University and CIRES provide a collaborative environment and support for our research.

Link

So tell us again how is it you know more than they do?
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20221
211. Snowlover123
07:48 PM GMT die 13o May, anno 2011
Quoting cyclonebuster:


You are incorrect! They are well below the 1979 to 2000 average.


No, Cyclonebuster... you didn't look at the context of what I said...

"Cyclone, a lot of those regional Arctic Sea Ice anomalies are pretty close to normal, yet it is "not acceptable..."

The map you presented was the National Snow and Ice Data Center's Map, not NASA's.

Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
210. cyclonebuster
07:27 PM GMT die 13o May, anno 2011
Quoting Snowlover123:
Cyclone, a lot of those regional Arctic Sea Ice anomalies are pretty close to normal, yet it is "not acceptable..."


You are incorrect! They are well below the 1979 to 2000 average. You know more than NASA? Then tell us all where they are wrong.


Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20221
209. Snowlover123
06:59 PM GMT die 13o May, anno 2011
Cyclone, a lot of those regional Arctic Sea Ice anomalies are pretty close to normal, yet it is "not acceptable..."
Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
208. Snowlover123
06:58 PM GMT die 13o May, anno 2011
Quoting TomTaylor:


I may have read this wrong but I believe they are saying co2's negative feedbacks cancel out its positive feedbacks. NOT "co2s feedbacks cancel out ghg warming."

...which (if I read that right) would undermine your argument.


Good Afternnon.

No, I believe you did not read that wrong. This is a feedback that cancels the "tipping-point" run-away positive feedbacks that people like Hansen have formulated. The increased OHT due to warming creates a negative feedback- increased clouds near the equator.

With the feedback that I said overthrows GHG warming, that is increased Water Vapour condensing and turning into clouds.

Then again, Hansen thinks that we should go into a strong El Nino by this summer....
Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
207. cyclonebuster
06:04 PM GMT die 13o May, anno 2011
Gulfstream Kinetic Energy prevents this.



U.S. on record pace for high-cost weather disasters

The USA has been hit with five weather disasters costing more than a billion dollars each in 2011, setting a modern record for the most high-cost weather events so early in a year, according to insurance estimates and government records.Tornadoes, floods and storms have inflicted unusually high costs because of their severity and their location, hitting populous areas such as Memphis, Raleigh, N.C., and Tuscaloosa, Ala. The severe damage could affect people nationwide, increasing insurance rates and draining taxpayer-supported disaster-relief funds.

"This has been an incredibly active start to the year," said Steve Bowen, a meteorologist who tracks weather disasters at AON Corp., the world's largest global insurance broker.

A new report by Bowen lists three billion-dollar disasters in April alone, which excludes the ongoing Mississippi River flooding and a blizzard that walloped the Midwest and Northeast from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2. Both are expected to cost more than $1 billion, the amount the federal government uses as the threshold to highlight the most severe weather disasters.

STORY: Mo. farmers return to lands ruined by blown levee
STORY: Aid pours into Alabama town hit hard by tornado

Storms this year have "produced significant damage, disruption to business and closures and increased car accidents," said Robert Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute, a leading research group supported by insurers.

The 2011 costs follow three record-setting years in which thunderstorms and tornadoes alone caused an average of about $10 billion in annual damage, according to an institute study. "It looks like 2011 is perhaps going to set perhaps a new record," Hartwig said, adding that insurance costs have risen in areas that have been hit hard by weather disasters in recent years.

A record nine billion-dollar weather disasters hit the U.S. in 2008, according to National Climactic Data Center records dating to 1980. Only two of those disasters hit by mid-May.

The center tallies disaster costs using information from insurers, state emergency-management centers and federal agencies.

Bowen estimated that a powerful spring storm in the Midwest and Southeast from April 3 to April 5 cost $2 billion, and that a similar storm in the same area a week later cost $2.25 billion.

Link
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20221
206. TomTaylor
01:58 AM GMT die 13o May, anno 2011
Quoting cyclonebuster:
Ya'll want climate change? Then tap into gulfstream kinetic energy.Make it work for us and not against us.
I never said I wanted climate change
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4357
205. cyclonebuster
01:25 AM GMT die 13o May, anno 2011
Ya'll want climate change? Then tap into gulfstream kinetic energy.Make it work for us and not against us.
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20221
204. cyclonebuster
01:22 AM GMT die 13o May, anno 2011
Not Acceptable.

Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20221
202. cyclonebuster
01:21 AM GMT die 13o May, anno 2011
Not Acceptable.

Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20221
201. cyclonebuster
01:19 AM GMT die 13o May, anno 2011
Not Acceptable!


Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20221
Not acceptable!

Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20221
Quoting Neapolitan:

Assuming, of course, that the ambient temperature was the only thing that mattered. Unfortunately, of course, warming is bringing with it a whole slew of problems that will prove to be very uncomfortable to us humans--so much so, in fact, that the advantage of being able to wear Bermuda shorts well into December will not offset anything.
true. But we were discussing which is better between gw and gc...gc would have its whole "slew" of problems as well, which I believe are worse than gw "slew" of problems.

Once again, I'm not advocating gw, climate change always has consequences, I'm only arguing that gw is better than gc for both man and life as a whole on earth.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4357
Quoting cat5hurricane:
And from our Number 1 news network: *drum roll*

House Approves Bill to Lift Drilling Moratorium

Someday we'll look back at this administration when gas prices are $6.00 a gallon and say to ourselves, "Gee, what a bunch of idiots".

This is, of course, ignoring the simple fact that opening up our entire coasts to drilling won't do a thing to affect prices at the pump for many, many years, if ever. Not. A. Thing.

Desperation is all this is: oil companies desperate to hold onto their tens of billions of dollars in annual profits; politicians (mostly though not exclusively on the right) desperate to curry favor and cash from those oil companies; Americans desperate to cling to their inane fantasies that the oil will last forever and the planet isn't warming and Progressives are all un-American hippie socialists. People in those groups are every bit as pathetic as a drug addict, feverishly sweating and begging, "More! More! Just a little bit more!" and of course they don't want to see the truth and of course they want to be lied to (see: Fox News) and of course they will do anything--anything--to get one just more hit off the Crackpipe Of Big Oil.

The thing is: it's over. Oil is yesterday's energy source. Last century's. It's onto bigger and better things now. And if future generations look back on this administration as idiots, it's only because so many in it lack the courage to remove their lips from the Big Oil spigot long enough to tell the ExxonMobil's of the world to go to hell.

@Rusty: the answer you're looking for is, I believe, 42.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13306
Quoting TomTaylor:


Why do you continue to ignore the evolutionary perspective?

Please tell me which is better adapted for a cold environment a chimp or a human? - assuming both are wearing only their birthday suits

Even if we did evolve to cope with a colder environment, currently the majority of our population is in mid latitudes. These environments are not suitable for humans. They only become so when we dramatically alter our environment and ourselves (wearing layers of clothes).

Gw would make these latitudes more suitable for humans than gc would. If we all lived in the tropics like we did when we first evolved, maybe gc would be better than gw for humans, but the majority of our population does NOT live in the topics.

Assuming, of course, that the ambient temperature was the only thing that mattered. Unfortunately, of course, warming is bringing with it a whole slew of problems that will prove to be very uncomfortable to us humans--so much so, in fact, that the advantage of being able to wear Bermuda shorts well into December will not offset anything.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13306
Quoting cyclonebuster:


How much more desertification will the warmer world bring us or do you think that is not happening now?


how much shorter would growing seasons become, how much less rain would fall, and how much more land area would be covered by ice during during GC?

You don't know the answers either.

Look cyclonebuster, you said

Quoting cyclonebuster:
Who wants a colder Earth?


GW > GC in terms of species proliferation, and human proliferation since we are a warm environment species inhabiting mild-cold environments.

Now, the problem with climate change is species must adapt. Those that don't die off and go extinct.

So I am NOT promoting climate change by any means.
You just offered the idea of GC, and I am trying to show you that GW is better than GC.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4357
Quoting TomTaylor:


Why do you continue to ignore the evolutionary perspective?

Please tell me which is better adapted for a cold environment a chip or a human? - assuming both are wearing nothing

Even if we did evolve to cope with a colder environment, currently the majority of our population is in mid latitudes. These environments are not suitable for humans. They only become so when we dramatically alter our environment and ourselves (wearing layers of clothes).

Gw would make these latitudes more suitable for humans than gc would.


How much more desertification will the warmer world bring us or do you think that is not happening now?
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20221
Quoting cyclonebuster:


After looking at that graph how can you say that?
It would make more sense if you said we can adapt to the excess heat.


Why do you continue to ignore the evolutionary perspective?

Please tell me which is better adapted for a cold environment a chimp or a human? - assuming both are wearing only their birthday suits

Even if we did evolve to cope with a colder environment, currently the majority of our population is in mid latitudes. These environments are not suitable for humans. They only become so when we dramatically alter our environment and ourselves (wearing layers of clothes).

Gw would make these latitudes more suitable for humans than gc would. If we all lived in the tropics like we did when we first evolved, maybe gc would be better than gw for humans, but the majority of our population does NOT live in the topics.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4357
Quoting TomTaylor:
cooling. However, once again, from an evolutionary standpoint (which is all that matters) humans are designed for a warmer climate than the large majority of the mid latitude climates we now inhabit. Therefore warming would be better for humans than cooling.

UNLESS we all migrated back to where we originated...then gc might be better


After looking at that graph how can you say that?
It would make more sense if you said we can adapt to the excess heat.
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20221
Quoting cyclonebuster:


Try this one then. Where were we here?


cooling. However, once again, from an evolutionary standpoint (which is all that matters) humans are designed for a warmer climate than the large majority of the mid latitude climates we now inhabit. Therefore warming would be better for humans than cooling.

UNLESS we all migrated back to where we originated...then gc might be better
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4357
Quoting Snowlover123:


If the feedbacks in the co2 climate system were all positive, then we would see runaway Global Warming, and no cooling. With Negative Feedbacks, it helps stabilize co2 warming, and this is what has been observed in the paleoclimatological data. And we have this new skeptical paper that was just recently published, that also documents the negative feedbacks- I will repost the abstract here:

Marcelo Barreiro Unidad de Ciencias de la Atmosfera, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de la Republica, Uruguay Annalisa Cherchi

Simona Masina Centro Euro-Mediterraneo per i Cambiamenti Climatici, and Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Bologna, Italy


Abstract: Using an atmospheric general circulation model coupled to a slab ocean we study the effect of ocean heat transport (OHT) on climate prescribing OHT from zero to two times the present-day values. In agreement with previous studies an increase in OHT from zero to present-day conditions warms the climate by decreasing the albedo due to reduced sea-ice extent and marine stratus cloud cover and by increasing the greenhouse effect through a moistening of the atmosphere. However, when the OHT is further increased the solution becomes highly dependent on a positive radiative feedback between tropical low clouds and sea surface temperature. We found that the strength of the low clouds-SST feedback combined with the model design may produce solutions that are globally colder than Control mainly due to an unrealistically strong equatorial cooling. Excluding those cases, results indicate that the climate warms only if the OHT increase does not exceed more than 10% of the present-day value in the case of a strong cloud-SST feedback and more than 25% when this feedback is weak. Larger OHT increases lead to a cold state where low clouds cover most of the deep tropics increasing the tropical albedo and drying the atmosphere. This suggests that the present-day climate is close to a state where the OHT maximizes its warming effect on climate and pose doubts about the possibility that greater OHT in the past may have induced significantly warmer climates than that of today.

These scientists explain the faulty logic in assuming that the co2 feedbacks are positive, therefore creating CAGW.


I may have read this wrong but I believe they are saying co2's negative feedbacks cancel out its positive feedbacks. NOT "co2s feedbacks cancel out ghg warming."

...which (if I read that right) would undermine your argument.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4357
Ran across these two news pieces just now:

Scientists warn US risks acting too late on climate change

The US government needs a coordinated, national response to greenhouse-gas emissions including immediate reductions, or it risks acting too late to reduce the effects of global climate change, a congressionally charged panel of scientists said Thursday.

The panel's conclusions were included in the final volume of the National Research Council's five-part America's Climate Choices series on the risks associated with climate change.

"It is our judgment that the most effective strategy is to begin ramping down emissions as soon as possible," according to Albert Carnesdale, a chancellor emeritus of the University of California-Los Angeles and the chairman of the NRC committee that prepared the report.

In addition, the committee concluded that regulations to deal with climate change are easy to overturn if they prove too harsh, but changes to the environment could be impossible to reverse if GHG emissions are allowed to continue unabated.

"Because the effects of greenhouse gases can take decades to manifest and then persist for hundreds or even thousands of years, waiting for impacts to occur before taking action will likely be too late for meaningful mitigation," according to the committee.

Many scientists have long warned that increasing global temperatures can lead to a widespread changes in the global climate, increased flooding, more powerful and destructive storms, droughts and melting of the polar ice caps.

The recommendations echo arguments from some in Congress who would like to impose either a tax on carbon dioxide emissions or a so-called "cap and trade" system that would put a ceiling on carbon emissions and allow emitters to trade credits for those emissions.

But...such a cap-and-trade proposal was...never taken up by the Senate. Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner have attacked the proposal as a jobs killer, and since that party took control of the House earlier this year, chances of the government moving to limit carbon emissions has diminished.

McGaw-Hill Article...

And about that very last sentence, allow me to add this: what a bunch of irresponsible idiots.

And in a closely-related story:

Research Panel Says Climate Change Doubts Slow Urgent Action

Public misconceptions of climate change have thwarted urgently needed U.S. efforts to reduce emissions blamed for global warming, according to a report from the National Research Council of the National Academies.

The media sometimes present aspects of climate change that are well-established as if they were “matters of serious debate,” according to the report released today in Washington. Groups opposed to policies limiting carbon-dioxide emissions are influencing some reporting, according to the study, which was requested by Congress in 2008 when Democrats were in the majority. It was prepared by a committee of scientists, engineers and economists.

Climate change is happening and is "very likely’’ caused by the burning of fossil fuels, said committee chairman Albert Carnesale, chancellor emeritus and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. The U.S. should respond with “aggressive emissions reductions” of greenhouse gases from power plants, factories and transportation, and plan for adapting to effects of global warming, such as rising seas, with a national strategy, the council said.

“We’re talking about a challenge that is a matter of decades and indeed where some of the consequences are quiet, delayed, and so public understanding and support is essential,” Carnesale said in an interview.

The Earth’s average surface temperature has increased by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius) over the past 100 years, with about one degree occurring over the past three decades, according to the report. A “preponderance” of scientific evidence shows that the release of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases is the “most likely” cause of most warming during the past 50 years, the report found.

Melting ice, rising average sea levels and reduced snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere can be linked in part to warming, the report said. In the U.S., temperatures have increased by more than two degrees during the past 50 years. Extreme weather, such as drought and heavy downpours, is more frequent and intense.

Public support for science associating human activity with warming fell after thousands of e-mails were hacked from computer servers at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit in the U.K. in November 2009. The stolen e-mails included discussions among climate researchers about keeping some scientific papers out of a report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is charged with summarizing science on the topic for policy makers around the world.

Bloomberg Article...

Repeat: what a bunch of irresponsible idiots.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13306
Quoting RustyShackleford:


Since your a so called conservative you should know it isn't part of their beliefs to control things especially the environment.


That would be correct. They would rather manipulate other things than climate such as oil prices and oil consumption.
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20221
Quoting cyclonebuster:


.
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20221

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About RickyRood

I'm a professor at U Michigan and lead a course on climate change problem solving. These articles often come from and contribute to the course.