Talking About the Weather
July 2, 2014
Antarctic sea ice has hit its second all-time record maximum this week. The new record is 2.112 million square kilometers above normal. Until the weekend just past, the previous record had been 1.840 million square kilometers above normal, a mark hit on December 20, 2007, as I reported here, and also covered in my book.
Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, responded to e-mail questions and also spoke by telephone about the new record sea ice growth in the Southern Hemisphere, indicating that, somewhat counter-intuitively, the sea ice growth was specifically due to global warming.
“The primary reason for this is the nature of the circulation of the Southern Ocean – water heated in high southern latitudes is carried equatorward, to be replaced by colder waters upwelling from below, which inhibits ice loss,” Serreze wrote in an e-mail. “Upon this natural oceanic thermostat, one will see the effects of natural climate variations, [the rise] appears to be best explained by shifts in atmospheric circulation although a number of other factors are also likely involved.”
There was one part of his response that was hard for me to understand. What would heat the water at high latitudes, those closest to the South Pole? (I also didn’t understand why he was talking about ice loss being inhibited when what was happening was the record growth of ice.)
This article was posted: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 at 2:09 pm