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Scott and Shackleton logbooks prove Antarctic sea ice is not shrinking 100 years after expeditions

November 24, 2016

By Paul Homewood 


h/t Green Sand





An interesting article in the Telegraph:


Antarctic sea ice had barely changed from where it was 100 years ago, scientists have discovered, after pouring over the logbooks of great polar explorers such as Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton.

Experts were concerned that ice at the South Pole had declined significantly since the 1950s, which they feared was driven by man-made climate change.

But new analysis suggests that conditions are now virtually identical to when the Terra Nova and Endurance sailed to the continent in the early 1900s, indicating that declines are part of a natural cycle and not the result of global warming.


Scott's ship the Terra Nova 

Scott’s ship the Terra Nova 


It also explains why sea ice levels in the South Pole have begun to rise again in recent years, a trend which has left climate scientists scratching their heads.

"The missions of Scott and Shackleton are remembered in history as heroic failures, yet the data collected by these and other explorers could profoundly change the way we view the ebb and flow of Antarctic sea ice,” said Dr Jonathan Day, who led the study, which was published in the journal The Cryosphere.





"We know that sea ice in the Antarctic has increased slightly over the past 30 years, since satellite observations began. Scientists have been grappling to understand this trend in the context of global warming, but these new findings suggest it may not be anything new.

"If ice levels were as low a century ago as estimated in this research, then a similar increase may have occurred between then and the middle of the century, when previous studies suggest ice levels were far higher."

The study was based on the ice observations recorded in the logbooks from 11 voyages between 1897 and 1917, including three expeditions led by Captain Scott, two by Shackleton, as well as sea-ice records from Belgian, German and French missions.

Captain Scott died along with his team in 1912 after losing to Norwegian Roald Amundsen in the race to the South Pole, while Shackleton’s ship sank after becoming trapped in ice in 1915 as he and his crew attempted the first land crossing of Antarctica.

The study is the first to calculate sea ice in the period prior to the 1930s, and suggests the levels in the early 1900s were between 3.3 and 4.3 million square miles (5.3 and 7.4 million square kilometres)

Estimates suggest Antarctic sea ice extent was significantly higher during the 1950s, before a steep decline returned it to around 3.7 million miles (6 million square kilometres) in recent decades which is just 14 per cent smaller than at the highest point of the 1900s and 12 per cent bigger than than the lowest point.

The findings demonstrate that the climate of Antarctica fluctuated significantly throughout the 20th century and  indicates that sea ice in the Antarctic is much less sensitive to the effects of climate change than that of the Arctic, which has experienced a dramatic decline during the 20th century.


A couple of years ago, I actually researched the records of Shackleton’s voyage in 1914/15, and came to the same conclusions. (See here)


The Telegraph piece also goes on to report:


Separate research by the British Antarctic Survey also showed that the present day loss of the Pine Island Glacier on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has been happening since the mid 20th century and was probably caused by El Nino activity rather than global warming.

Pine Island Glacier, which drains into the Amundsen Sea in West Antarctica, is retreating and thinning rapidly, but the initial triggering mechanism was unclear. The team looked a sediment cores in the area which showed that an ocean cavity under the ice shelf began to form around 1945, following a pulse of warmth associated with El Niño events in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

“We are very excited about this new finding as it provides the first direct evidence of the timing of glacier retreat even before we had satellites to measure them,” said lead author, marine geologist Dr James Smith from British Antarctic Survey.

“They show us how changes half-way across the planet in the tropical Pacific, reached through the ocean to influence the Antarctic ice sheet.”

Co-author Professor Bob Bindschadler of NASA added: “A significant implication of our findings is that once an ice sheet retreat is set in motion it can continue for decades, even if what started gets no worse. 

“It is possible that the changes we see today on Pine Island Glacier were essentially set in motion in the 1940s.”

The Pine Island research was published in Nature.


Another reminder that we should not blame everything on CO2.

  1. Harry Passfield permalink
    November 24, 2016 11:38 am

    Take a listen to Justin Web on R4 Today, this morning, trying to get his interviewee (Reading Uni scientist) to say that this does not give cause for sceptics to celebrate. Pretty awful hectoring and lack of balance. Web is a true believer.

    • November 24, 2016 12:00 pm

      Saint Justin Webb a missionary for the Church of Misguided SJW’s
      Guido : beebs-bannon-bashing-backfires 17th Nov
      \\ Justin Webb boldly told Breitbart* editor Joel Pollack that Bannon “doesn’t like Jews”, Pollack replied that he is an orthodox Jew who observes the Shabbat and eats kosher food, and that Bannon is not an anti-Semite. //
      Then JW had another go and asked why a Breitbart report mentioned that the journalist Anne Applebaum is Jewish.
      Pollack replied: “I don’t know, why don’t you ask the Jewish author of that sentence?”
      *From the founder up Breitbart is quite Jewish..apart from the UK arm where they selected an ethnic Muslim to head the operation.
      Don’t worry I am sure leftMob will find another label to ‘label and dismiss’ them with

      Than night on C4 News Cathy Newman tried the same trick against Milo and got a kicking.

      • Shooter permalink
        November 25, 2016 7:18 am

        IIRC Raheem Kassam’s family is Muslim but he is not. Islam isn’t a race, though.

    • November 24, 2016 4:38 pm

      Well she’s got a point, what the hell do shackleton and Scott know about ice?

      Did they have computer models, no.

      Paul is always doing this, presenting data and evidence, that can never be as much use as a simulation and adjustment.

      The science is proven, I know cos I was told.

  2. Eric Hutchinson permalink
    November 24, 2016 11:45 am

    Now being argued that the result is because there are no people there! CO2, apparently, stays over places where there is human activity! Well, I never guessed that! The planet does not spin, there are no winds in the upper atmosphere, and the jet stream is a figment of the imagination! Can anyone dream up the next load of crap about to be dumped?

  3. November 24, 2016 12:26 pm

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News.

  4. November 24, 2016 12:33 pm

    “5 years until the S hits the fan” said the sleazy hippy who was the focus of the Ben Fogle’s Channel 5 show on Tuesday about his Ibiza eco-commune-farm

    • Mark Hodgson permalink
      November 24, 2016 7:07 pm

      Yes,plenty of snow here in Cumbria. It was -1.5C at 10am in Wigton this morning.

  5. November 24, 2016 1:07 pm

    Also no trends in the satellite era

  6. Joe Public permalink
    November 24, 2016 1:08 pm

    The Beeb is now onto the story “‘Heroic’ Antarctic explorers left sea-ice clues”

    Note their careful wording ….. “The study suggests that Antarctic sea-ice is much less sensitive to climate change than the Arctic, which has declined dramatically.” [My bold]

    Some subbie is angling for their Xmas ‘Propaganda Bonus’

    • Gerry, England permalink
      November 24, 2016 1:45 pm

      The worry is that they believe this rubbish and can’t conceive that they are doing anything. True Marxism – ends justify the means no matter how many casualties.

    • November 24, 2016 3:58 pm

      The BBC article ends with “Scott and Shackleton went to the Antarctic in search of glory – but a century on – their ultimate legacy will be to have helped scientists learn more about climate change.” But the BBC does not add that the scientists will learn about natural climate change, since CO2 has nothing to do with it.

  7. Michael Olsen permalink
    November 24, 2016 1:30 pm

    Researchers will find it less messy if they stop “pouring over” the logbooks and “pore over” them instead.

  8. November 24, 2016 1:58 pm

    ‘…indicates that sea ice in the Antarctic is much less sensitive to the effects of climate change than that of the Arctic’

    Not exactly…
    ‘The polar see-saw (also: Bipolar seesaw) is the phenomenon that temperature changes in the northern and southern hemispheres may be out of phase.’

    NASA Study: Mass Gains of Antarctic Ice Sheet Greater than Losses [Oct. 2015]

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      November 24, 2016 4:12 pm

      The Reading scientist interviewed by Web suggested the difference could well be down to the fact that Antarctica is a land-mass and Arctic is not. Interestingly, that makes me wonder, the land-mass also contains sub-sea volcanoes…so how much more ice would there be if not for them?

  9. November 24, 2016 2:16 pm

    Reblogged this on Tallbloke's Talkshop and commented:
    What is shrinking – with evidence like this – is the credibility of current IPCC-led global warming theories.

  10. The Old Bloke permalink
    November 24, 2016 2:33 pm

    Whilst this thread is about the Antarctic, don’t forget about the uncharted volcanoes and active tectonic plates recently discovered under the sea ice.
    Which brings me back to the Arctic and a recent thread run by Paul on the sudden increase in arctic temperatures.
    So, I had a further look to see if anything could cause this sudden spike in Arctic temperatures similar to what has happened in the Antarctic from time to time and in the media world put down to Climate Change.
    Well, I think I have found the reason for the sudden spike in increased temperature;
    First look here and in particular the image of NullSchool sea temperature at Svalbard:
    (For some reason Svalbard rang a bell, so I looked through my notes)
    Now look here:

    • November 24, 2016 3:46 pm

      arctic-news says: ‘When taking other elements than CO₂ more fully into account, the situation looks to be even worse than this, i.e. the global temperature rise could be as much as 10°C (or 18°F) over the coming decade, as further described at the extinction page.’

      Oh dear. Even most alarmists would be embarrassed by such a ludicrous claim.

  11. Broadlands permalink
    November 24, 2016 2:38 pm

    At another site, the Daily Mail…Read more:
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

    “It is not known why Antarctic ice has grown since the 1970s.
    Some scientists believe the widening hole in the atmosphere’s ozone layer has caused stronger surface winds over Antarctica and more frequent storms in the Southern Ocean.
    But the results from the ‘heroic age’ of polar exploration suggest this also happened earlier in the 20th century.”

    This is “bas backwards”. It is the winds from the polar vortices that create the “hole” which has nothing to do with CFCs but has much to do with natural oscillations.

  12. dangeroosdave permalink
    November 24, 2016 3:18 pm

    Inconvenient data. Somebody should write a book. 🙂

  13. The Old Bloke permalink
    November 24, 2016 4:25 pm

    Well, maybe this is why the Arctic sea ice and sheets are disappearing, there are active volcanoes directly underneath them!

  14. dennisambler permalink
    November 24, 2016 4:37 pm

    The retreat of Antarctic ice shelves is nothing new according to research published in the journal Geology by scientists from Universities of Durham, Edinburgh and British Antarctic Survey (BAS). (24 Feb, 2005)

    “A study of George VI Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula is the first to show that this currently ‘healthy’ ice shelf experienced an extensive retreat about 9500 years ago, more than anything seen in recent years. The retreat coincided with a shift in ocean currents that occurred after a long period of warmth.

    The findings are particularly relevant for other studies on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet where scientists have found that a relatively warm current, Circumpolar Deep Water, is causing high melt rates on the underside of an ice shelf in Pine Island Bay.

    This is some of the first evidence that a shift in ocean currents can actually destroy ice shelves.

    In this case it’s possible that a preceding warm period may have primed the ice shelf to disintegrate when the ocean currents shifted.’

    It is important to appreciate that ice shelf collapses have happened before.

    For example, BAS scientists Carol Pudsey and Jeff Evans reported that the Prince Gustav Ice Shelf, which collapsed in 1995, had also collapsed several thousand years ago.”

  15. dennisambler permalink
    November 24, 2016 4:49 pm

    Depicting a cause-and-effect scenario that spans thousands of miles, a scientist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and his collaborators discovered that ocean waves originating along the Pacific coasts of North and South America impact Antarctic ice shelves and could play a role in their catastrophic collapse.

    May 12, 1983 Article by Larry Gedney, Alaska Science Forum:

    “Vernon Squire, an oceanographer with the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, England, mounted “strainmeters” on a number of icebergs in the Antarctic and monitored the small distortions resulting from the “surf” around the bergs’ margins.

    It was found that each iceberg has a unique resonant frequency of vibration, depending on its size and shape. Although it would seem that ordinary ocean waves should have little effect on such a massive body, if the wave frequency matches that of the iceberg (or of one of its harmonics), the expansion and contraction induced could build to the point where the iceberg shatters.”

    Professor Squire later moved to New Zealand where he became Head of Mathematics at Otago university.

    A research project on sea ice break-up described on the Otago website started in 2003 and successfully implemented the funding phrase, “climate warming”. It seems nothing can be researched without it.

    “Professor Squire’s focus is on intensified wave activity arising as a result of climate warming and the subsequent thinning and decrease in concentration of sea-ice.”

  16. Jack Dawkins permalink
    November 24, 2016 6:17 pm


    “…the data collected by these and other explorers could profoundly change the way we view the ebb and flow of Antarctic sea ice,” said Dr Jonathan Day, who led the study….”

    The warmist faithful have form on dealing with dissenting or off-message views. I sincerely hope that Dr Day does not find that his career is now doomed.

  17. November 24, 2016 11:15 pm

    My neighbors at Scripps seem unaware of “the Roaring 40’s”. Many a wave from that globe-circling region arrives at S. Cal shores to the delight of the local surfers. I can’t imagine the reverse!

  18. November 25, 2016 12:23 am

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  19. November 25, 2016 12:32 am

    Nice post. Now warmunists will try to erase the immutable truth in these ships logbooks. Homogenized sextant readings? Compass deviation corrections? White male observer bias for sure, per the recent feminist glaciologist rant paper.

  20. tom0mason permalink
    November 25, 2016 8:12 am

    Overall the long term changes to the Antarctic tends to show climate effects, in contrast the changes to the Arctic tend to show localized weather effects — especially changes in sea temperature.

    This is why the master of scientific hokum, Hansen, said the Arctic was the place to watch. I’m sure he knew that the Antarctic was/is the place to study.

  21. Green Sand permalink
    November 25, 2016 2:59 pm

    Meanwhile up north:-

    ‘Accounts From 19th-Century Canadian Arctic Explorers’ Logs Reflect Present Climate Conditions’

    “The extent of summer sea ice in the Canadian Arctic during the 19th century was remarkably similar to present ice conditions…….”

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