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Antarctic Sea Ice Retreats Due To Wind Patterns

December 14, 2016

By Paul Homewood


While Arctic ice extent has been at low levels lately, coincidentally, strange things have been going on down under.

Bucking the trend of recent years when Antarctic sea ice extent has been steadily rising, it has dropped away in the last few months.

Naturally this has led to the alarmists having a field day. I have, however, used the word “coincidentally” deliberately, as there is no evidence whatsoever that the Arctic and Antarctic events are connected. Or that the latter has anything to do with global warming.


So what has been happening in the Antarctic? NSIDC offer a clue in their October edition of Arctic Sea Ice News, after it reached winter maximum on a record early date:



The early maximum appears to be the result of an intense wind pattern in September, spanning nearly half of the continent from the Wilkes Land area to the Weddell Sea, and centered on the Amundsen Sea. Stronger than average low pressure in this area, coupled with high pressure near the Falkland Islands, and near the southern tip of New Zealand in the Pacific Ocean, created two regions of persistent northwesterly winds. Sea ice extent decreased in the areas where the northwesterly winds reached the ice front.


In other words, weather.

Fast forward to this months Sea Ice News, and we find that wind patterns have continued to push sea ice towards the land mass.


The entire austral autumn and winter (since March 2016) was characterized by generally strong west to east winds blowing around the continent. This was associated with a positive phase of the Southern Annular Mode, or SAM. This pattern tends to push the ice eastward, but the Coriolis force acting in the ice adds a component of northward drift. During austral spring (September, October and November), the SAM index switched from strongly positive (+4 in mid-September, a record) to negative (-2.8 in mid-November). When the westerly wind pattern broke down in November, winds in several areas of Antarctica started to blow from the north. Over a broad area near Wilkes Land, the ice edge was pushed toward the continent. Areas with southward winds were also located between Dronning Maud Land and Enderby Land, and near the Antarctic Peninsula. This created three regions where ice extent quickly became much less extensive than usual (Figure 5c), reflected in the rapid decline in extent for the Antarctic as a whole. Interspersed with the areas of compressed sea ice and winds from the north, areas of south winds produced large open water areas near the coast, creating the polynyas.


We already know that ice extent in the Antarctic has never been an unchanging, constant thing, and that it has grown, shrunk and grown again in the 20thC.

It appears that we are simply seeing a repeat of past weather patterns.


It is of course ironic that during the last few years, there have been many attempts to blame increasing Antarctic sea ice on global warming. For instance, junk scientist-in-chief, James Hansen, claimed last year:


Our climate model exposes amplifying feedbacks in the Southern Ocean that slow Antarctic bottom water formation and increase ocean temperature near ice shelf grounding lines, while cooling the surface ocean and increasing sea ice cover and water column stability,”


I wonder if the same model also explains reducing sea ice!


Meanwhile atmospheric temperature trends over the region are as flat as a pancake:


RSS_TS_channel_TLT_Southern Polar_Land_And_Sea_v03_3

  1. December 14, 2016 7:43 pm

    Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    “It is of course ironic that during the last few years, there have been many attempts to blame increasing Antarctic sea ice on global warming.”

    More ice, less ice – it’s all “global warming”.

    • nigel permalink
      December 15, 2016 5:21 pm

      Same amount of ice – got to be two different effects of global warming balancing each other!

  2. December 14, 2016 7:53 pm

    I notice that the “Southern Polar” TLT graph only covers 60S-70S. The CFSR/CFSV2 surface temperature anomaly estimates covering 60S-90S posted by UM CCI show a weak downward trend persisting, despite some large upward spikes this year.

  3. Joe Public permalink
    December 14, 2016 10:28 pm

    Meanwhile, at Antarctica’s antipode …

  4. December 14, 2016 11:36 pm

    Wind and ocean currents are factors in both polar regions. Temperature does not explain year to year changes in sea ice extent.

  5. December 15, 2016 11:43 am

    There was a relevant historical anecdote on a BBC4 programme last night about the wildlife of South Georgia and Antarctica, of course with the now obligatory warning at the end about it now being under threat from … A recent paper found a similar sea-ice level today to what was present when Shackleton visited 100 years ago, but the anecdote was that Shackleton was warned by whalers on South Georgia that sea-ice at the Antarctic Peninsula was particularly bad that year. Thus, sea-ice there today is probably much more prevalent than the average level of 100 years ago.

  6. December 15, 2016 1:56 pm

    Reblogged this on Tallbloke's Talkshop and commented:
    Funny how decades of increasing seasonal sea ice in the Antarctic were ignored or somehow explained away, but a glimmer of a retreat and it’s banner headlines everywhere. Confirmation bias?

    Let’s see whether we get a multi-year trend along the same lines in this region. If not it will look like a one-off weather pattern, as seems very possible.

  7. Gabriel permalink
    December 15, 2016 2:03 pm

    Both Northern and South Poles are currently experiencing a huge growing on bombardment of cosmic rays and particles due to signficant decrease in the solar magnetic field as the Sun approaches its next grand minimum (F10.7 flux has decreased to very low levels for a very long period now). This has brought the southern polar vortex to weaken as it has happened in the northern one either thus making jet streams reach mid-lattitudes. The consequence is a retreat in the sea ice around the poles coupled with much colder temperatures for subtropical zones. In the Southern Hemisphere, South America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand were hit by the meteorological winter starting by the end of April and expanding till October. Unusual episodes of chilling temperatures are still happening till now a few days from the summer solstice. The south of Brazil today (Dec 15th) woke up with temperatures of 5C at 800m height.

  8. December 16, 2016 2:30 am

    You have given a correct description of what has happened. But the explanation lacks an interpretation of how cosmic ray flux and solar flux is instrumental in the northward shift of the jet stream. The interpretation needs to take into account the impact of these changes on the ozonosphere and its link with the Jet streams and polar cyclones.

  9. December 16, 2016 12:24 pm

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News.

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