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Antarctic Sea Ice Extent Breaks All-Time Record

September 17, 2013

By Paul Homewood





According to NSIDC, Antarctic sea ice extent reached its all time record high on 14th September, increasing to 19.512 million sq km, and beating last year’s record high of 19.477. Records started to be kept in 1979.

This year’s record is 941,000 sq km above the long term mean, and continues an upward trend in recent years.

Extent has declined slightly in the last two days, so it may have now reached its maximum for this year.







Let’s just recall what the IPCC are saying about Antarctic sea ice in the draft of the next report.


Most models simulate a small decreasing trend in Antarctic sea ice extent, in contrast  to the small increasing trend in observations… There is low confidence in the scientific understanding of the small observed increase in Antarctic sea ice extent.’


Translation – They were not expecting this and don’t understand why it is happening.

  1. eco-geek permalink
    September 17, 2013 8:41 pm

    There is low confidence in the scientific understanding of the small observed increase in Antarctic sea ice extent.’
    There is low confidence in the unscientific understanding of the small observed increase in Antarctic sea ice extent.’
    Equals: We don’t know anything (with 95% confidence).

  2. September 17, 2013 11:31 pm

    Because of 1000 year storms in Colorado, they should raise their game and just declare 110% confidence! 😉

  3. Jim Reekes permalink
    September 18, 2013 1:25 am

    Does this offset the loss in the Arctic? I think not, but I haven’t found “good” sources for total mass (not just surface area). Mass is much more meaning full. (BTW – I don’t think global warming is a problem, I’m just trying to find the facts).

    • September 18, 2013 9:22 am

      I’ve not seen anything measuring volume in Antarctica, as PIOMAS attempts in the Arctic.

    • Bruce permalink
      September 19, 2013 1:07 pm

      To Mr Reekes and Mr Homewood: Try Bedmap.
      There’s also Bedmap2. Not sure what a “good” source consists of, but this is an excellent start point for your questions concerning mass and volume.

      • September 19, 2013 2:55 pm

        Thanks Bruce

        Bedmap attempts to map the ice, but it does not seem to measure changes.

        Bedmap2, issued this year, has apparently found more ice than V1 in 1999, but I presume this is down to better methods.

  4. F. Guimaraes permalink
    September 24, 2013 4:36 am

    “They were not expecting this and don’t understand why it is happening.”
    How is this even possible? Both poles are actually cooling and they just “don’t believe” it?
    What kind of “scientists” don’t believe in the observed facts?…
    I know what, the scientists of the “last generation”, who cannot let go a failed paradigm, who will die with the paradigm instead of accepting any new idea.
    That’s what is happening with the “scientists” of the AGW, they’ll never accept the failure of their models.

    • September 24, 2013 6:56 am

      Actually, if you read more than just that one snippet from the NSIDC website that this author sourced his information from, they report that Antarctica “is about 3.9% above the average maximum extent for the 30-year comparison period 1981 to 2010. In contrast, this year’s Arctic summer minimum ice extent is approximately 30% below levels seen in the early 1980s, and the 2012 record low extent was around 60% below levels seen in the same period.”

      So no, both poles are not cooling, while the Antarctic is showing more ice, the Arctic is showing considerably less ice extent. The Arctic is losing more than the Antarctic is gaining.
      “This helps to highlight why scientists are more concerned by Arctic ice shrinkage than by Antarctic ice expansion.”

      • September 24, 2013 9:42 am

        Global sea ice has been running close to the mean this year.

        Also, in the the early 1980’s Arctic ice was well above the level of earlier decades.

      • Jim Reekes permalink
        September 26, 2013 10:46 pm

        @sidfilmz “The Arctic is losing more than the Antarctic is gaining.”

        How do you know this? Antarctica holds about 90% of the world’s ice, and I don’t know how much of the world’s sea ice. If I apply your figures to this fact, I get a 3.9% increase of 90% compared to a 30% loss of less than 10%. In short, those two figures are about the same!

        And those figures are comparing “surface area” not mass. An area of thick ice is much greater than the same area of thin ice. Comparing the area of the extent ignores this fact.

        This is why I asked for a good source to compare the amount of ice at the two poles. I still haven’t see it. I suspect it would be figures from the GRACE project, but I’ve seen problems in that data.

      • September 26, 2013 11:21 pm

        All I am doing is quoting text from the exact same website that the auther has sourced his information from above. The NSIDC states that scientists are more worried about Arctic ice shrinkage than Antarctic gain, so there must be something to that. And while Arctic sea ice rose slightly this year, it is still at its 6th lowest point on record.

        I myself am not a scientist and am not trying to make any factual statements myself, only presenting my own sensical observations. I have witnessed changes in the environment personally, as has everyone else alive today. And there is lots of evidence that ocean temperatures are rising, along with evidence that the rate of climate change is much more rapid because of the boom of industry and human actions than it has historically occurred naturally.

        And for the first time ever a bulk freight carrier has been able to travel the northwest passage :

      • September 27, 2013 9:38 am

        The National Geographic article you link to starts by saying

        Global warming caused by human activities that emit heat-trapping carbon dioxide has raised the average global temperature by about 1°F (0.6°C) over the past century.

        While their figure may be correct, they are assuming it is caused by humans, when there is actually very little evidence.
        They also suggest hurricanes will get worse as ocean temperatures rise, but hurricanes are not getting worse, indeed the opposite seems to be the case.

        I think all this shows that you need to follow the facts, and not simply accept “what people say”.

        BTW – You refer to the (Ice strengthened) Bulk Carrier sailing through the NW Passage.According to this report though

        Until the Nordic Orion, however, the passage was travelled mostly by icebreakers, tugs and small cargo ships hauling supplies to northern communities,

        In other words, it is nothing new. The reality of course is that conditions in the Arctic are similar to what they were in the 1930’s, before they got much colder in the 1960’s and 70’s.

      • F. Guimaraes permalink
        September 27, 2013 12:12 am

        Arctic ice was loosing more than the Antarctic is gaining because this year both gained ice, and not only by a small margin in both poles.
        To return to the levels of the 1980’s we need some time, but the recent trend of cooling is clear in many aspects of the climate, with sequential strong NH winters, with the AMO giving clear signs to flip to negative anomalies (as happened at the beginning of the 1960’s, with negative PDO and AMO), with the (very possible) formation of 3rd La Nina episode in a row at the end of this year since the last El Nino, the successive records of cold and ice extent in Antarctica, etc.
        The recent trend is for cooling, very clearly, but to reach the levels of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s we still have some way to go.
        The main cause of the present trend, IMO, are the low levels of solar radiation of cycle C24, which could probably accelerate the cooling process in the years ahead (e.g., regarding the AMO cycle).

  5. Jim Reekes permalink
    September 27, 2013 7:00 pm

    @sidfilmz “for the first time ever a bulk freight carrier has been able to travel the northwest passage”

    I can’t comment about that specific type of ship, but the northwest passage has been navigable in the past, but I can tell you with certainty that this passage has been open before, many time, and even in recent history.

    “HMS Investigator… 1853…sailing the last leg of the elusive Northwest Passage.”

    “successful transit was made between 1903 and 1906….in the 47 ton herring Boat Gjøa”

    “1942 the [St. Roch] … the second vessel ever to complete the passage”

    “1906 … 47 tonne sloop ‘Gjoa’ … become the first yacht to complete the Northwest Passage”

    “1942 when the Canadian ship ‘St Roch’ …. complete transit”

    “1977 the… steel ketch ‘Willywaw’ became the 3rd yacht to go through”

    “British yacht to have completed the Passage… sailed her East to West… 1988”

    “2003… ‘Norwegian Blue’…become the first British yacht to transit the Northwest Passage from West to East”

    “1984, the commercial passenger vessel MS Explorer…became the first cruise ship to navigate the Northwest Passage”

    “[2007] The most direct route of the Northwest Passage…is shown fully navigable”


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