Climate Change Caused by Humans
Fiction: Sea Ice is Increasing

Fiction: Sea Ice is Increasing

The claim: Global sea ice is increasing which could not be happening if there was global warming.

Figure 1 (NSIDC, 2010) shows the current Antarctic sea ice extent and trend beginning in the year 1979. This image is often used by the anti-science crowd to try to fool people into thinking that global sea ice is increasing.

Trend in Antarctic Sea Ice
Figure 1: Antarctic sea ice extent and trend beginning in the year 1979

Figure 2 shows Arctic sea ice extent since 1953. For January 1953 through December 1979, data have been obtained from the UK Hadley Centre and are based on operational ice charts and other sources. For January 1979 through July 2009, data are derived from satellite. Figure 3 shows the most current sea ice extent from satellite measurements. Arctic Sea ice extent has been dramatically reduced since 1953.

Sea Ice Extent Since 1953
Figure 2: Northern Hemisphere sea ice extent since 1953

Sea Ice Extent
Figure 3: Current Northern Hemisphere sea ice extent from satellite measurements

Antarctic sea ice has increased 0.5 million sq. km above that seen in late 1979 but Arctic sea ice has decreased by 1.0 million sq. km so there has been a net loss of sea ice globally. (NSDIC, 2009) Arctic sea ice extent is far more sensitive to warming by increased GHGs and there have been some studies that show Antarctica may expect an increase in sea ice due to increased evaporation and subsequent snowfall onto the sea ice. (Ibid)

Sea ice thickness is rapidly decreasing, glaciers are retreating and losing volume, and both Antarctica and Greenland are losing ice mass. All of these are strong indicators of global warming. Do not be fooled!

For a much more detailed discussion on Arctic sea ice, please visit Arctic Sea Ice (Part 1): Is the Arctic Sea Ice recovering? A reality check

Scott A. Mandia
Professor - Physical Sciences
T-202 Smithtown Sciences Bldg.
533 College Rd.
Selden, NY 11784
(631) 451-4104

Last updated: 04/13/10