Crash and early maximum in Antarctic sea ice – maybe?

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Sep 20, 2016, 11:46:30 AM9/20/16
to Weather and Climate
All the focus recently has been on the Arctic sea ice minimum, but the real news to my mind is in the Antarctic, where a recent late crash in sea ice extent has brought forward the date of maximum extent (18.518 million square kilometres [MSK]) for 2016 to the 28th of August, possibly the earliest maximum in the record that began in 1979. The sea ice extent has fallen from the probable maximum on the 28th of August when it stood at almost +1 standard deviation [SD] above the mean, to now very close to -2 SD below the average. 

The sea ice extent is now lower than it was in 2014 by over 2 MSK. I don't think it's likely that it can make the ground it's lost and peak again, because the 18th of September is the average time of maximum extent in the Antarctic. Having said that, there was a late surge in sea ice from the 25th of September last year, the surge continued until October 3rd making it the second latest Antarctic maximum, so I suppose anything is possible.

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Alastair B. McDonald

Sep 20, 2016, 4:08:36 PM9/20/16
to Weather and Climate
I've lost both my maps and graphs of Antarctic sea ice at present so I did not know that was happening. But here is one which shows the same as you: and I can watch.

I wonder if this is caused by the El Nino and the sea ice will recover next year.


Sep 20, 2016, 4:17:58 PM9/20/16
to Weather and Climate
The change in the Antarctic sea ice over the last two years has been nothing short of astonishing.

My graph is not as smooth because it uses daily values rather than a 5 day average that gave me all the problems last week with Arctic sea ice.

Paul Garvey

Sep 23, 2016, 1:47:17 AM9/23/16
to Weather and Climate
Odd, isn't it? 

The meting of Antarctic sea ice is subject to different processes than Arctic sea ice, but all predictions are that eventually, Antarctica will lose sea ice and ice overall. It is probably losing ice overall, ATM, though a study in 2015, by Jay Zwally at NASA showed the opposite and increased snowfall may be counteracting the loss of ice to the sea. Most NASA studies have no shown that and show that land ice is decreasing.

This year's late lack of ocean ice is odd, but is probably due to local events.
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