Friday, August 21, 2009

Antarctic sea ice extent in July still greater than the long-term average

A commenter on my post about the Arctic sea ice extent decreasing at a slower rate in August asks what is happening in the Antarctic. According to a piece from NOAA dated August 14, 2009 says:

Antarctic sea ice extent in July was 1.5 percent above the 1979-2000 average. July Arctic sea ice extent has decreased by 6.1 percent per decade since 1979, while July Antarctic sea ice extent has increased by 0.8 percent per decade over the same period.

Actually, that doesn't really say what happened in July itself, whether the rate of change changed faster or slower than recent months or compared to recent past years. It is worth noting that it is winter down there, so the sea ice extent should be increasing right now.

Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be the same semi-monthly sea ice report as there is for the arctic.

There is some concern about some specific ice "shelves" and glaciers, but the overall Antarctic sea ice extent has increased.

One question I would ask is whether the volume of ice shelf collapses and faster moving glaciers in Antarctica might actually be a source for the increase in antarctic sea ice as the ice over and attached to land migrates towards the sea. I simply do not know.

The NOAA article gives mixed data on global temperatures. On the one hand, they report a record high for global ocean temperature in July, while the global land temperature was only tied for ninth place (with 2003) for highest temperature in July, and the combined sea/land temperature in July was only the fifth highest on record.

-- Jack Krupansky

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