Antarctic Sea Ice is Growing

Brief Responses to Climate Change Denialism Statements

CPSG 200 Science & Global Change Sophomore Colloquium

"Antarctic Sea Ice is Growing"

The idea that Antarctic ice is expanding is an argument that is supported by climate change denialists interpreting data incorrectly. To understand why this myth is incorrect it is important to first understand the difference between sea ice and land ice. Land ice is thousand year old stored ocean water that once fell as precipitation. Sea ice forms in the winter months from the salt water in the ocean. Sea ice may be increasing every year but most of the ice will melt by the summer months and come back for the next winter from the salt water in the ocean. Land ice is a better indicator of climate change because land ice has historically remained solid year-round in the Antarctic. The Antarctic has been losing an average of 20,800 square miles of land ice per year. From 1992 to 2011 data indicates that the Antarctic ice sheets are melting at a rate of 70 Gt per year which equates to a global average of 1.9 mm sea level rise per decade. Although satellite data from NASA's GRACE mission shows the east Antarctic Ice sheet growing slightly, gaining about 7,300 square miles of ice a year. Scientists have proven the gain is not enough to offset the other losses. The "growth" this myth talks about is data that is extrapolated from the overall trend and the east Antarctic ice growth is not enough to compensate for the tremendous loss of ice of the West Antarctic sheet.


This is the satellite data from 1993 to the present of the sea level. The latest measurement of sea level in July 2017 was 84.8mm. Link to Data: Sea Level . Citation: Anonymous. July 2017. Sea Level. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Accessed 14 October 2017.

For More Information:
Stroeve, J., M. Holland, W. Meier, T. Scambos, and M. Serreze. 2007. Sea ice decline: faster than forecast. Geophysical research Letters. doi:10.1029/2007GL029703

Worland,J. 19 April 2017. New Discovery in Antarctica Suggests Ice Sheets Could Disappear Faster Than Previously Thought.Time. Accessed 13 October 2017.

Contributed by: McKayla Kelly, Angela Luthcke, Caroline Swetonic

Last modified: 17 October 2017