Global Warming? Global Sea Ice Levels Defy Alarmist Predictions

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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An Arctic death spiral? An Antarctic meltdown? Maybe not, according to the latest global sea ice data that shows the Arctic retreating while simultaneously the Antarctic is gaining.

The phenomenon was noted by climate scientist Dr. Roger Pielke, Sr., who tweeted out a chart of sea ice levels showing that while Arctic sea ice levels may be low, sea ice from the south pole is booming, leading to a resurgence of global sea ice levels to well above normal.

Pielke knows his stuff. He’s published more than 370 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals, and is well-respected in the field. Pielke’s graph shows that since 2013, global sea ice levels have been at or above the long-term average (the years 1979 to present).

So why is sea ice so high despite predictions that global warming would reduce sea ice levels? The Arctic certainly doesn’t have as much sea ice as it used to. University of Illinois data shows that north pole sea ice extent stands at about 5 million square miles — about 325,000 square miles below the 1979 to 2008 mean ice extent.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center says that Arctic sea ice extent reached its lowest maximum extent on record during February 2015. NSIDC also reported that Arctic sea ice extent for March was the lowest average for the month ever recorded at 436,000 square miles below the 1981 to 2010 average.

Yet sea ice remains near it’s “long-term coverage” because Antarctic sea ice is booming, defying climate model predictions that the South Pole would lose ice as the world warmed. University of Illinois data shows Southern Hemisphere sea ice extent is currently 476,000 square miles above average — and it’s only fall down under.

In November 2014, Southern Hemispheric sea ice reached its highest levels ever recorded for that month. In May 2014, the South Pole continued to set sea ice level records, according to NSIDC data. At that point, south pole sea ice had been well above the long-term average for 16 consecutive months.

You won’t hear about this equalizing force of Antarctic sea ice from most media outlets, which tend to focus on the long-term collapse of the South Pole’s western ice sheet. Scientists say the ice sheet is in an irreversible state of collapse and could significantly add to global sea level rises.

“[T]he [ice sheet] has gone into irreversible retreat,” said Eric Rignot, the lead author of a 2014 study claiming the western Antarctic was collapsing. “It has reached the point of no return.”

Rignot’s study noted, however, the collapse would take anywhere between 200 to 900 years to occur. In fact, it’s surface snow melt and calving glaciers that some scientists argue are causing Antarctic sea ice coverage to expand so much.

Dutch researchers argued in 2013 that “cool freshwater from melt beneath the Antarctic ice shelves has insulated offshore sea ice from the warming ocean beneath,” according to the Herald Sun newspaper.

Not all scientists, however, agree with this assessment. Professor John Turner with the British Antarctic Survey told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an emailed statement from March that “it seems likely that this is just natural climate variability, which is large in the Antarctic region as shown by the paleoclimate records we get from ice cores and other records.”

“The climate records from Antarctica are short but we have 20,000 years of data from climate models with pre-industrial forcing and these suggest that the recent changes in sea ice are not exceptional and there is no indication that the changes are a result of human activity,” Turner said.

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