New paper on Antarctic sea ice melt misses the mark

temp anomalyAccording to a new paper in the journal ‘Science Magazine,’ the Antarctic Ice Sheet is melting at an accelerated rate, which the authors attribute to a warming climate. There’s only one problem: According to the National Space Science & Technology Center at the University of Alabama, Huntsville (UAH), atmospheric temperatures across Antarctica haven’t moved up or down since 1979 (See graph right).

Paul Homewood, of the popular site Not A Lot Of People Know That, writes that “the [temperature] trend is a statistically insignificant 0.02¬∞C/decade.” He also notes that “sea surface temperatures have been plunging in the last decade,” and not rising. According to this paper, the sea ice that is supposedly melting sits on this ocean water, ruling that out as a factor.

“Even if we only look at summer temperatures, when logically most of the ice melt would occur, there is very little trend. Six of the last summers have actually been below average,” Homewood writes. “The only notable summer was 2012/13, when December and January were 1.29 and 1.27C warmer than average. Although unusually warm, such weather was not unprecedented in summer, as December 1989 was 1.36C warmer than average.”

Since 1980, sea ice concentration has also increased considerably around Antarctica according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The report also focuses on the Amundsen and Bellingshausen regions, which are part of West Antarctica, saying they have lost up to 18% of their thickness in less than two decades. Homewood doesn’t believe we have “the accuracy of measurements, particularly back in the 1990s, to come to any statistically significant conclusions about sea ice volumes over such a short period of time.”

As previously reported here, it is common knowledge among geologists that West Antarctica is heavily influenced by underground volcanic activity and is one of the “largest zones of continental extension on Earth.” Hidden beneath West Antarctica’s thick glacial ice cover is a myriad of currently active volcanoes and dormant but not extinct volcanoes which are all located along an active Rift Systems.

After contacting geologist James Kamis about this study, he notes this active rift system directly affects Antarctica’s thick glacial ice cover by emitting very hot chemically charged fluid beneath the ice. This acts to melt the ice in localized areas close to the rift system. “Where the rift system cuts across Antarctica’s land mass,” he said, “the hot, chemically charged fluids are in direct contact with the base of the ice sheet. Where the rift system extends into the ocean and Antarctica’s ice sheet is floating on seawater, the hot chemically charged fluids heat the overlying ocean, which then melts the base of the ice sheet.”

This rift system ice melting process would account for what the authors claim is a 70 percent loss in the past decade in West Antarctica sea ice, and has entirely nothing to do with non-existent atmospheric warming. As is often the case in climate science, factors completely unrelated to man are often the cause of any observed changes to our planet.

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