NASA Still Spreading Antarctic Worries

Watts Up With That
Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Steven Goddard looks at trends in Antarctica and compares to NASA’s recent article.

A January 12, 2010 Earth Observatory article warns that Antarctica

has been losing more than a hundred cubic kilometers (24 cubic miles) of ice each year since 2002” and that “if all of this ice melted, it would raise global sea level by about 60 meter (197 feet).

If sea level rose 60 meters, that would wipe out most of the world’s population – which would no doubt make some environmentalists happy.  Sadly for them though, Antarctica contains 30 × 10^6 km3 of ice which means that it will take 300,000 years for all the ice to melt at NASA’s claimed current rate of 100 km3 per year.  (Chances are that we will run out of fossil fuels long before then.)  The surface area of Antarctica is 14.2 million km2 which would indicate an average melt of less than 7 millimeters per year across the continent.  (Is NASA claiming that they can measure changes in Antarctic ice thickness within 7 millimeters?)  But even more problematic is that UAH satellite data shows no increase in temperatures in Antarctica, rather a small decline.

NASA themselves appear very confused about Antarctic temperature trends.  As you can see in the two images below, sometimes they think Antarctica is warming and other times they think it is cooling.

NASA shows Antarctica cooling

NASA shows Antarctica warming

According to NSIDC, sea ice extent has been increasing over time around Antarctica – this is consistent with the idea that temperatures are cooling.

The University of Illinois Cryosphere Lab shows that Antarctic sea ice area has also been increasing over time.

One of the key features of Hansen’s global warming theory is that the polar regions are supposed to warm much faster than the rest of the planet.  The image below is from his classic 1984 paper, and shows that Antarctica is supposed to warm up 6C after a doubling of CO2.  If the cooling trend which UAH shows continues, it will take Antarctica a very long time to warm up six degrees.

Hansen also predicted that sea ice would diminish around Antarctica and significantly decrease albedo.  Clearly that prediction was wrong as well.

Some are quick to come to Hansen’s defense by saying that “climate science has improved since that paper was written, we now know that Antarctic shouldn’t warm as fast as the Arctic.”  That is indeed a fine explanation, but the problem is that most of Antarctica is not warming at all.

According to the University of Colorado Sea Level Lab, sea level is rising at about 32cm/century.  At that rate it will take 18,750 years for sea level to rise 60 meters (per the NASA article.)

Temperatures in Vostok, Antarctica average -85F in the winter, and warm all the way up to -25F in the summer.   If global warming raises the temperature there by a mere fifty-seven degrees, we may seem some melting occurring in the summer.

Difficult to see what NASA is worried about.


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