Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

I got into a discussion about polar sea ice in the comments to my post Where Is The Climate Emergency?. In the process I noticed some mysteries.

To start with, here’s the Arctic sea ice area record.

Figure 1. Sea ice area anomaly, Arctic

The mystery for me in this record is the decade from about 1998 to 2008. There’s very little month-to-month variation in the record over that period, and the ice area is dropping steadily … followed by ~ thirteen years of very large month-to-month variations with little overall change in ice area. Is this real? Is it an artifact? Unknown.

Then we have the Antarctic ice area record …

Figure 2. Antarctic ice area anomaly

Here, the obvious mystery is, just what the heck happened around 2015-2017 to cause the Antarctic ice area to drop so precipitously?

And finally, putting both poles together, we get the following:

Figure 3. Global, Arctic, and Antarctic sea ice areas.

Figure 3 reveals a number of mysteries.

• There is no overall increase or decrease in total global sea ice for the entire ~ forty-year period from November 1978 until 2015 or so. This is despite increasing CO2 and general gradual global warming. Why?

• Up until 2015 or so, when the Arctic had more ice area, the Antarctic had less ice area, and vice versa. Why?

• Around 2015, after forty years of global ice stability, both Arctic and Antarctic ice areas dropped, leading to a very visible drop in global ice area. Why the drop, and why then and not earlier or later?

• After the drop, the global ice area seems to be starting to recover … again, why?

• At the North Pole, there is an ocean covered with sea ice. At the South Pole, there’s a high rocky plateau covered with land ice and surrounded by sea ice. Yet despite these totally different situations, the area of sea ice is almost exactly the same at both poles … say what?

Other than saying that equal ice areas at the poles MAY be a result of my hypothesis that the climate is a giant thermoregulated heat engine with a host of emergent phenomena that tend to stabilize the temperatures and equalize the hemispheres, I fear I have no answers to these curious polar questions … all comments welcome.

I will say that I am overjoyed that the world of climate contains far more mysteries than answers …

When nothing is for sure, we remain alert, perennially on our toes. It is more exciting not to know which bush the rabbit is hiding behind than to behave as though we knew everything.
—Carlos Castaneda, in The Teachings of Don Juan

My best to all adventurers in this most marvelous universe,


You Might Have Heard This Before: I can defend my own words. I can’t defend your interpretation of my words, particularly when I don’t know what you’re referring to. So please, when you comment, quote the exact words you are discussing. Thanks.

via Watts Up With That?

May 4, 2021