Antarctic Sea Ice Extent Breaks July Records

Published August 7, 2013

Antarctic sea ice extent broke several records in July, continuing a remarkable string of Antarctic sea ice being above the long-term average every day in 2013.

String of New Records
For eight of the final nine days in July, Antarctic sea ice surpassed prior records. The string of records continued into August, with ice coverage setting new records on August 1 and August. August 2 being the 21st day Antarctic sea ice set a record in 2013.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite instruments have been measuring polar sea ice since 1979. The modest decline in Arctic sea ice since 1979 is almost perfectly matched by the gradual increase in Antarctic sea ice. Combining Arctic and Antarctic sea ice data, total polar sea ice has exceeded the long-term average throughout most of 2013.

Global Perspective Is Necessary
Global warming activists often refer to recent declines in Arctic sea ice in support of their assertion that humans are creating a global warming crisis. However, they routinely neglect to mention the ongoing growth in Antarctic sea ice that largely cancels out the decline in Arctic sea ice.

“The long-term and ongoing growth in Antarctic sea ice is one of the most important yet hidden stories regarding global warming,” said Jay Lehr, science director for The Heartland Institute, which publishes Environment & Climate News. “Global warming activists like to claim global consequences resulting from carbon dioxide emissions, yet they conveniently forget to discuss the global nature of polar sea ice data. Instead, they only talk about Arctic sea ice, because that is the only polar region where sea ice is receding.

“The polar sea ice data perfectly illustrate flaws in global warming alarmist Heidi Cullen’s July testimony to the U.S. Senate Environment & Public Works Committee,” Lehr observed. “Cullen claimed global warming is causing all sorts of extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, droughts, and wildfires. Yet when climate realists presented data during the hearings showing no increase in extreme weather on a global or national scale, Cullen said the more appropriate scale is the regional, sub-national level. This is what global warming alarmists are reduced to when they cannot show any global or even national increase in extreme weather events, and this is what global warming activists are reduced to when they cannot show any decline in global polar sea ice.

“There will always be some places on the planet experiencing short-term increases in drought, wildfires, hurricanes, etc.,” Lehr explained. “When the global data as a whole, however, show no overall trend, it does not follow that global warming is making extreme weather worse. Similarly, when global sea ice data show no decline in polar sea ice, it is misleading to merely single out a recent decline in Arctic sea ice and then say global warming is causing the polar ice caps to melt. The objective data show just the opposite.”  

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.