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A 40-y record reveals gradual Antarctic sea ice increases followed by decreases at rates far exceeding the rates seen in the Arctic

A 40-y record reveals gradual Antarctic sea ice increases followed by decreases at rates far... A 40-y record reveals gradual Antarctic sea ice increases followed by decreases at rates far exceeding the rates seen in the Arctic a,1 Claire L. Parkinson Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory/Code 615, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771 This contribution is part of the special series of Inaugural Articles by members of the National Academy of Sciences elected in 2016. Contributed by Claire L. Parkinson, May 24, 2019 (sent for review April 16, 2019; reviewed by Will Hobbs and Douglas G. Martinson) Following over 3 decades of gradual but uneven increases in sea and 2018 are the lowest in the entire 1979–2018 record, essen- ice coverage, the yearly average Antarctic sea ice extents reached tially wiping out the 35 y of overall ice extent increases in just a 6 2 a record high of 12.8 × 10 km in 2014, followed by a decline so few years. This dramatic reversal in the changes occurring in the precipitous that they reached their lowest value in the 40-y 1979– Antarctic sea ice will provide valuable further information to test 2018 satellite multichannel passive-microwave record, 10.7 × earlier suggested explanations of the long-term Antarctic sea ice 6 2 10 km , in 2017. In contrast, it took the Arctic sea ice cover a full increases. We now have a 40-y multichannel passive-microwave 3 decades to register a loss that great in yearly average ice extents. satellite record of the Antarctic sea ice cover, all of which resides Still, when considering the 40-y record as a whole, the Antarctic in the Southern Ocean. The purpose of this paper is to present sea ice continues to have a positive overall trend in yearly average that record both for the Southern Ocean as a whole (labeled 2 −1 ice extents, although at 11,300 ± 5,300 km ·y , this trend is only “Southern Hemisphere” in the figures, to emphasize the inclusion 50% of the trend for 1979–2014, before the precipitous decline. of the entire hemispheric sea ice cover) and for the breakdown of Four of the 5 sectors into which the Antarctic sea ice cover is di- the Southern Ocean into the 5 sectors identified in Fig. 1. vided all also have 40-y positive trends that are well reduced from their 2014–2017 values. The one anomalous sector in this regard, Data and Methods the Bellingshausen/Amundsen Seas, has a 40-y negative trend, The data used throughout this paper come from a satellite-based multi- with the yearly average ice extents decreasing overall in the first channel passive-microwave data record begun in late 1978 following the 3 decades, reaching a minimum in 2007, and exhibiting an overall October 24, 1978 launch of the scanning multichannel microwave radiometer upward trend since 2007 (i.e., reflecting a reversal in the opposite (SMMR) on NASA’s Nimbus 7 satellite. The SMMR data are used in this study direction from the other 4 sectors and the Antarctic sea ice cover as for 1979 through mid-August 1987, followed by data from a sequence of the US Department of Defense’s Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) a whole). special sensor microwave imager (SSMI) instruments, the first of which was launched on the DMSP F8 satellite on June 18, 1987, and the follow-on DMSP sea ice climate change satellite Earth observations climate trends | | | | SSMI sounder (SSMIS) instruments, the first of which was launched on the Antarctic sea ice DMSP F16 satellite on October 18, 2003. Details on the intercalibration be- tween the data from successive instruments, to obtain a consistent long-term ince the late 1990s, it has been clear that the Arctic sea ice record, can be found in reports by Cavalieri et al. (20, 21). Scover has been decreasing in extent over the course of the Satellite passive-microwave data have major advantages over other data multichannel passive-microwave satellite record begun in late for studies of changes in the extent and distribution of the Antarctic sea ice 1978 (1–3). The decreases have accelerated since the 1990s and cover in recent decades. First, satellites allow monitoring of the full Antarctic sea ice cover every 1 or 2 d. Second, the satellite passive-microwave record have been part of a consistent suite of changes in the Arctic, including rising atmospheric temperatures, melting land ice, thawing permafrost, longer growing seasons, increased coastal Significance erosion, and warming oceans (4, 5). Overall, it has been a con- sistent picture solidly in line with the expectations of the A newly completed 40-y record of satellite observations is used warming climate predicted from increases in greenhouse gases. to quantify changes in Antarctic sea ice coverage since the late In particular, modeled sea ice predictions showed marked Arctic 1970s. Sea ice spreads over vast areas and has major impacts sea ice decreases, and the actual decreases even exceeded what on the rest of the climate system, reflecting solar radiation and the models predicted (6). restricting ocean/atmosphere exchanges. The satellite record The Antarctic situation has been quite different, with sea ice reveals that a gradual, decades-long overall increase in Ant- extent increasing overall for much of the period since 1978 (7– arctic sea ice extents reversed in 2014, with subsequent rates of 11). These increases have been far more puzzling than the Arctic decrease in 2014–2017 far exceeding the more widely publi- sea ice decreases and have led to a variety of suggested explana- cized decay rates experienced in the Arctic. The rapid decreases tions, from ties to the ozone hole (12, 13; rejected in refs. 14, 15); reduced the Antarctic sea ice extents to their lowest values in to ties to the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) (16), the the 40-y record, both on a yearly average basis (record low in Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (17), and/or the Amundsen Sea 2017) and on a monthly basis (record low in February 2017). Low (10, 13, 17); to ties to basal meltwater from the ice shelves (18; rejected in ref. 19). None of these has yet yielded a consensus Author contributions: C.L.P. designed research, performed research, analyzed data, and wrote the paper. view of why the long-term Antarctic sea ice increases occurred. Reviewers: W.H., University of Tasmania; and D.G.M., Columbia University. In the meantime, while the unexpected, decades-long overall The author declares no conflict of interest. increases in Antarctic sea ice extent are still being puzzled out, the sea ice extent has taken a dramatic turn from relatively This open access article is distributed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial- NoDerivatives License 4.0 (CC BY-NC-ND). gradual increases to rapid decreases. On a yearly average basis, Email: claire.l.parkinson@nasa.gov. the peak sea ice extent since 1978 came in 2014. Since then, the decreases have been so great that the yearly averages for 2017 Published online July 1, 2019. 14414–14423 | PNAS | July 16, 2019 | vol. 116 | no. 29 www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1906556116 95% level or above and R values above 2.712 would signify statistical sig- nificance at a 99% level or above; the corresponding values for a 36-y re- cord, also discussed below, are 2.032 and 2.728 for 95% and 99% significance, respectively. In view of the imperfect nature of tests of statis- tical significance when applied to the real world (24, 25), these numbers are only provided as rough indicators. The satellite passive-microwave datasets are available at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, CO, and on the NSIDC website, https://nsidc.org (26). Results Figs. 2–7 present plots of the monthly averages, monthly devia- tions, and yearly averages for the Southern Ocean as a whole (Fig. 2) and for each of the 5 sectors it is divided into in Fig. 1 (Figs. 3–7). Table 1 provides details on the yearly average trends and includes values for the 1979–2014 record before the sharp decline in ice extents as well as values for the full 40-y record. Full Southern Ocean. For the Southern Ocean as a whole, the quite prominent annual cycle has minimum monthly ice extent always (for the 40 y of the dataset, 1979–2018) occurring in February 6 2 and always well under 5 × 10 km and maximum ice extent occurring in September in all years except 1988, when it was in 6 2 October, and always well over 17 × 10 km (Fig. 2A). The monthly deviations and yearly averages depict clearly the overall upward trend in ice extents until 2014, when the yearly averages 6 2 reached a record high of 12.8 × 10 km , and marked decreases in the subsequent 3 y (Fig. 2 B and C), leading to a record low Fig. 1. Identification of the 5 sectors used in the regional analyses. These 6 2 monthly average sea ice extent of 2.29 × 10 km in February are identical to the sectors used in previous studies (7, 8). 2017 (Fig. 2A) and a record low yearly average sea ice extent of 6 2 10.75 × 10 km in 2017 (Fig. 2C). Despite the marked decreases in ice extent following the 2014 record high, the least squares extends back to the 1970s. Third, the microwave signal from sea ice is quite distinct from the microwave signal from liquid water. Fourth, the microwave trends remain positive, although at roughly half the magnitude of radiation is emitted from within the Earth/atmosphere system, rather than the 1979–2014 trends (Table 1). Specifically, the 1979–2018 2 −1 being reflected sunlight; hence, the measurements can be made irrespective trend of 11,200 ± 2,100 km ·y for the monthly deviations is 2 −1 of day or night conditions. Fifth, at appropriate microwave wavelengths, the only 50.7% of the 22,100 ± 2,000 km ·y slope of the trend line microwave radiation from the surface can travel through most cloud covers, 2 −1 for 1979–2014, and the 1979–2018 trend of 11,300 km ·y for allowing measurements under cloudy as well as cloud-free conditions. These the yearly averages is only 50.4% of the trend for 1979–2014 advantages result in a 40-y record covering all seasons of the year and allowing (Table 1). determination of large-scale changes in the Southern Ocean sea ice cover that The 5 sectors also all exhibit a strong annual cycle with would not be feasible without the satellite passive-microwave data. monthly ice extent minima frequently in February and maxima The microwave data were converted to sea ice concentrations (percent frequently in September, although with much greater in- areal coverages of sea ice) in each pixel (∼25 km × 25 km) of the gridded terannual variability than for the Southern Ocean as a whole. satellite data through the NASA team algorithm described in detail by Gloersen et al. (22). Sea ice extents were then calculated by summing, The following sections for the individual sectors highlight some throughout the region of interest, the areas of each pixel with a calculated of the regional and interannual variability in the Southern Ocean sea ice concentration of at least 15%. Ice extents are calculated for each day sea ice cover. of available data; yearly and monthly averages are calculated by averaging the daily ice extents for the year or month, respectively. Summer averages Weddell Sea. In the Weddell Sea, monthly minimum ice extent is are calculated by averaging the daily extents for January, February, and always in February, as in the Southern Ocean as a whole, but March; autumn averages are calculated by averaging the daily extents for monthly maximum ice extent varies more frequently from its April, May, and June; winter averages are calculated by averaging the daily typical September timing, being in August in 1992, 1994, 2004, extents for July, August, and September; and spring averages are calculated and 2017 and in October in 1997, 2002, 2015, and 2018 (Fig. 3A). by averaging the daily extents for October, November, and December. Interestingly, the highest Weddell Sea monthly average ice ex- Because the sea ice cover has a prominent annual cycle, long-term trends in tent in the 40-y record, in September 1980, was followed the next sea ice extents are more clearly depicted after removing the annual cycle. This summer by among the lowest February and March ice extents is done here both through yearly averaging, which removes considerable (Fig. 3A), and, similarly, relatively high September values in additional information as well as the annual cycle (e.g., monthly interannual 1987, 1992, and 2016 were all followed by below average Feb- variability, amplitude of the annual cycle, seasonality of the trends), and through the more information-retaining monthly deviations, calculated by ruary extents the next year. With other high September ice ex- subtracting from the individual month’s ice extent the average of the ice ex- tents (e.g., in 2007) not being followed by particularly low tents for that particular month throughout the 40-y record. For example, the February extents, this illustrates interannual variability and the monthly deviation for January 1979 is the ice extent for January 1979 minus difficulty of forecasting ice extents months in advance based the average of the ice extents for the 40 months of January 1979–2018. simply on current ice extents. High ice extents with low ice Trend lines are calculated for the monthly, seasonal, yearly, and monthly concentrations could bring about particularly effective decay deviation datasets through standard linear least squares, and the standard seasons, as could winds and ocean currents transporting to the deviations (SDs) of the trends are calculated based on the technique described region more warm air and water than normal. Similar to the by Taylor (23). The ratio (R) of the trend magnitude to its SD is given to Southern Ocean as a whole, the Weddell Sea experienced overall provide a rough indication of the relative statistical significance of the ice extent increases, on a yearly average basis, through 2014, trends, with higher R values suggesting greater significance. More specifi- although less convincingly (Table 1, with an R value of 1.88 cally, if assuming a 2-tailed t test and 38 degrees of freedom for the 40-y sea ice record, R values above 2.024 would signify statistical significance at a versus the Southern Ocean’s R value of 5.25) and with the Parkinson PNAS | July 16, 2019 | vol. 116 | no. 29 | 14415 ENVIRONMENTAL INAUGURAL ARTICLE SCIENCES Fig. 2. (A) Monthly average sea ice extents for the Southern Hemisphere, January 1979–December 2018. February extents are depicted in red, September extents in green, and all other extents in black. (Inset) The 40-y average annual cycle. Single-letter abbreviations are used for months. (B) Monthly deviations determined from the monthly average data of A, with the same monthly color coding and with the line of linear least squares fit and its slope and SD. (C) Yearly average sea ice extents and their line of linear least squares fit. The ice extents are derived from passive-microwave data from the NASA Nimbus 7and Department of Defense DMSP satellites. increases continuing, slightly, to 2015 (Fig. 3C). The Weddell ice extents from 2010 to 2011 was followed by a rebound in the Sea experienced marked ice extent decreases from 2015–2018, next 3 y and then a 2-y decrease resulting in the Indian Ocean falling just short of reaching its record minimum yearly ice extent record minimum yearly ice extent in 2016, before rebounding set in 1999 (Fig. 3C). somewhat in 2017 and 2018 (Fig. 4C). Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean is the one sector in which the Western Pacific Ocean. Like the Southern Ocean as a whole, the average annual cycle of monthly ice extents peaks in October Western Pacific Ocean has a February minimum and a Sep- rather than September. Still, its average annual cycle shares with tember maximum in its average annual cycle of sea ice extents, the other sectors a February minimum, making for the most although in the Western Pacific case, the October ice is nearly as asymmetric of these average cycles, with an 8-mo growth period extensive as the September ice and the August ice is not far and a 4-mo decay period (Fig. 4A, Inset). The month of minimum behind (Fig. 5A, Inset). The month of ice extent minimum in the monthly ice extent was February in all except 2 y (1986 and Western Pacific was February in each year except 1980, 1985, 2003), when it was March, while the month of maximum ice 1986, and 2017, when it was March, and the more variable month extent was October in 33 y and September in the remaining 7 y of maximum was August in 8 y, September in 15 y, and October (Fig. 4A). The Indian Ocean record high monthly ice extent was in 17 y (Fig. 5A). The largest deviations from normal came in reached in October 2010 (Fig. 4A), and the year of peak yearly September and October of 1989, when the ice cover was far less average ice extent was 2010 (Fig. 4C), 4 y earlier than the peak extensive than the average September and October ice covers for the Southern Ocean as a whole. A decrease in yearly average (Fig. 5B). Yearly ice extents in the Western Pacific increased 14416 | www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1906556116 Parkinson Fig. 3. (A) Monthly average sea ice extents in the Weddell Sea, 1979–2018. February extents are col- ored red, September extents green, and all others black. (Inset) The 40-y average annual cycle. (B) Monthly deviations, with the line of linear least squares fit and its slope and SD. (C) Yearly averages and their line of linear least squares fit. overall until reaching their record high in 2013, followed by a which also contained the 2 highest monthly values of the 40-y prominent downward trend from 2013–2018 (Fig. 5C). The record, the highest in September 1982 and the second highest in second highest yearly ice extent came decades earlier, in 1982, October 1982 (Fig. 5A). Table 1. Slopes and SDs of the lines of linear least squares fit for the yearly sea ice extents in the full Southern Ocean and each of the 5 sectors identified in Fig. 1, both for the 40-y record, 1979–2018, and, in parentheses, for the 36-y record, 1979–2014, before the reversal from overall sea ice increases to rapid decreases 3 2 −1 Sector Slope, 10 km ·y R Slope, % per decade Weddell Sea 4.0 ± 3.5 (7.0 ± 3.7) 1.13 (1.88) 1.0 ± 0.8 (1.7 ± 0.9) Indian Ocean 2.6 ± 1.8 (5.9 ± 1.8) 1.48 (3.23) 1.4 ± 0.9 (3.2 ± 1.0) Western Pacific Ocean 2.6 ± 1.3 (3.2 ± 1.6) 1.96 (1.98) 2.3 ± 1.2 (2.8 ± 1.4) Ross Sea 5.8 ± 2.9 (11.3 ± 3.0) 1.97 (3.75) 2.1 ± 1.1 (4.3 ± 1.1) Bellingshausen/Amundsen Seas −3.7 ± 1.8 (−4.9 ± 2.1) 2.02 (2.32) −2.5 ± 1.2 (−3.2 ± 1.4) Full Southern Ocean 11.3 ± 5.3 (22.4 ± 4.3) 2.12 (5.25) 1.0 ± 0.5 (2.0 ± 0.4) The slopes and SDs are listed both as the areal loss each year and as the percentage of the ice cover lost each decade. The R column gives the ratio of the slope magnitude for the areal loss to its SD (calculated before rounding to the 2 −1 nearest 100 km ·y ), as a rough indicator of statistical significance, both for the 40-y record and, in parentheses, for the 36-y record. Using the 2-tailed t test mentioned in the text, statistical significance at the 95% level or above is indicated in the R column by italics and statistical significance at the 99% level or above is indicated by boldface. The trend reversals since 2014 have markedly lessened the statistical significance of the trends. Parkinson PNAS | July 16, 2019 | vol. 116 | no. 29 | 14417 ENVIRONMENTAL INAUGURAL ARTICLE SCIENCES Fig. 4. (A) Monthly average sea ice extents in the Indian Ocean, 1979–2018. February extents are colored red, September extents green, and all others black. (Inset) The 40-y average annual cycle. (B) Monthly deviations, with the line of linear least squares fit and its slope and SD. (C) Yearly averages and their line of linear least squares fit. Ross Sea. The Ross Sea ice extent has a prominent, consistent more examples on the sector plots. What happens during the decay monthly minimum in February but large variability in its month season varies greatly depending on the surrounding atmospheric of maximum, which is July in 3 y, August in 8 y, September in 16 and oceanic conditions. y, October in 12 y, and November in 1 y (Fig. 6A). The record high monthly value came in September 2007, although the Bellingshausen/Amundsen Seas. The Bellingshausen/Amundsen highest yearly value was much earlier, in 1999 (Fig. 6 A and C). Seas is the sector most out of line with the rest of the Southern The overall but nonuniform reduction of sea ice coverage since Ocean, although sharing with each of the sectors the existence of the 2007 high led to an almost total disappearance of the sea ice substantial interannual variability (Fig. 7). In 11 y, its month of cover and record low in February 2017, with some rebounding minimum ice coverage was March rather than February, whereas the following year (Fig. 6A). The month that deviated the most no other sector had more than 4 y with a minimum month other from the average annual cycle was December 1979, in a year than February. The large variability in its month of maximum ice extent is more in line with the variability in the other sectors, when the ice cover had been below average since September being July in 2 y, August in 14 y, September in 20 y, and October (Fig. 6B). Further interannual variability can be illustrated by the in 4 y (Fig. 7A). However, the major contrast between the contrast between the September 2007 record high ice extent being followedthe next summer by aFebruaryalsowithanun- Bellingshausen/Amundsen Seas sector and the rest of the Southern usually high ice extent, versus the high September 1996 ice extent Ocean is that it had an overall downward trend in ice extents for being followed by a low February ice extent (Fig. 6A). This phe- most of the record, followed by an overall upward trend. This nomenon of high September ice extents being followed sometimes contrast corresponds well with the marked regional warming by high and sometimes by low February ice extents is mentioned recorded on the Antarctic Peninsula, adjacent to the Belling- also in the Weddell Sea section and could be illustrated with many shausen Sea, for the early decades of the 40-y record (27), a 14418 | www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1906556116 Parkinson Fig. 5. (A) Monthly average sea ice extents in the Western Pacific Ocean, 1979–2018. February extents are colored red, September extents green, and all others black. (Inset) The 40-y average annual cycle. (B) Monthly deviations, with the line of linear least squares fit and its slope and SD. (C) Yearly averages and their line of linear least squares fit. warming not recorded elsewhere on the continent, and the sub- for the full Southern Ocean were statistically significant at least sequent cooling over the Antarctic Peninsula (28). The yearly at the 95% level, and most were also significant at the 99% level, average ice extents in the Bellingshausen/Amundsen Seas reached for the 36-y record; for the 40-y record, only 4 remain statistically their minimum in 2007 (Fig. 7C), and although the upward significant at the 95% level and none are statistically significant trendsince 2007 did notresultinrecordhighyearlyice ex- at the 99% level (Table 2).] Through 2014, the Indian Ocean, tents (Fig. 7C), the record high monthly ice extent in the Western Pacific, and Ross Sea all also had positive trends in 2 −1 Bellingshausen/Amundsen Seas sector did come late in the record, each month (with ranges of 2,700–8,500 km ·y in the Indian 2 −1 in September 2015, despite the early decades of overall decreasing Ocean, 200–5,700 km ·y in the Western Pacific, and 3,100– 2 −1 sea ice coverage (Fig. 7A). Therecordlow iceextentcamein 17,700 km ·y in the Ross Sea), but now, with the full 40-y re- March 2010, in line with the general decrease in ice coverage in cord, only the Indian Ocean retains that commonality with the the first 3 decades of the record and the general increase in ice full Southern Ocean (Fig. 8). The Western Pacific and Ross Sea now both have 10 mo with positive trends and 2 mo with negative coverage since then (Fig. 7). or 0 trends (Fig. 8). The Weddell Sea has negative trends in Trends by Month. For the Southern Ocean as a whole, the 40-y sea winter and spring but positive trends in summer and autumn. ice extent trends remain positive for each of the 12 mo (Fig. 8 Once again, the Bellingshausen/AmundsenSeassector isout of and Table 2), and hence also for each of the 4 seasons. However, line with the rest of the Southern Ocean, as all 12 of its monthly the trend for November is close to 0 and far from statistical trends were negative earlier (8), but now with the 40-y record, 2 −1 significance, at 1,100 ± 6,700 km ·y , and every 40-y monthly its summer and autumn values remain negative, whereas its ice trend is far below the trend for the 36-y 1979–2014 period before extent trends in winter are positive and in autumn are mixed the recent sea ice declines (Table 2). [All of the monthly trends (Fig. 8). Parkinson PNAS | July 16, 2019 | vol. 116 | no. 29 | 14419 ENVIRONMENTAL INAUGURAL ARTICLE SCIENCES Fig. 6. (A) Monthly average sea ice extents in the Ross Sea, 1979–2018. February extents are colored red, September extents green, and all others black. (Inset) The 40-y average annual cycle. (B) Monthly deviations, with the line of linear least squares fit and its slope and SD. (C) Yearly averages and their line of linear least squares fit. Discussion The decline in yearly average Antarctic sea ice extents from 2014 to 2017 (followed by a slight rebound) was at a linear least The ice covers of each of the 5 sectors of Fig. 1 and of the 2 −1 squares rate of −729,000 km ·y , well exceeding the rate of Southern Ocean as a whole have experienced considerable in- change for either hemisphere in any other 4-y period during the terannual variability over the past 40 y (Figs. 2–7). In fact, the 40 y (1979–2018) of the satellite multichannel passive-microwave Southern Ocean and 4 of the 5 sectors (all except the Ross Sea) record (Fig. 9). The widely publicized sea ice decreases in the have each experienced at least one period since 1999 when the Arctic, even with their worrisome acceleration in the early 21st yearly average ice extents decreased for 3 or more straight years century, have never experienced (in the 40-y 1979–2018 record) a only to rebound again afterward and eventually reach levels ex- 4-y period with a rate of decrease in yearly average ice extents ceeding the extent preceding the 3 y of decreases (Figs. 2–7). 2 −1 exceeding in magnitude a value of −240,000 km ·y (Fig. 9B), This illustrates that the ice decreases since 2014 (Fig. 2) are no less than a third of the Antarctic rate of loss from 2014 to 2017. assurance that the 1979–2014 overall positive trend in Southern 2 In fact, the 2,027,000-km decrease in yearly average Antarctic Ocean ice extents has reversed to a long-term negative trend. ice extents in the 3 y from their 2014 maximum (12,776,000 km ) Only time and an extended observational record will reveal to their 2017 minimum (10,749,000 km ) (Fig. 2C) exceeds the whether the small increase in yearly average ice extents from loss in Arctic yearly average ice extents in any period of 33 y or 2017 to 2018 (Fig. 2C) is a blip in a long-term downward trend or less in the 40-y satellite multichannel passive-microwave record. the start of a rebound. Still, irrespective of what happens in the Based on the same SMMR/SSMI/SSMIS data source used for future, the 2014–2017 ice extent decreases were quite remark- the Antarctic, the Arctic ice cover had its 40-y peak yearly av- able compared not only with the rest of the 40-y Antarctic record erage ice extent in 1982, at 12,400,000 km , and its minimum in 2 2 but with the Arctic record as well. 2016, at 10,135,000 km , for a reduction of 2,265,000 km in 34 y. 14420 | www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1906556116 Parkinson Fig. 7. (A) Monthly average sea ice extents in the Bellingshausen/Amundsen Seas, 1979–2018. February extents are colored red, September extents green, and all others black. (Inset) The 40-y average annual cycle. (B) Monthly deviations, with the line of linear least squares fit and its slope and SD. (C) Yearly averages and their line of linear least squares fit. So, in 3 y, from 2014 to 2017, the Antarctic experienced a re- theentire40-y1979–2018 satellite multichannel passive-microwave duction of 89% of the total decrease of the Arctic yearly average record and raises the question of whether the Antarctic sea ice ice extents from their maximum in 1982 to their minimum in might be more amenable than the Arctic sea ice to very rapid 2016. The slope of the linear least squares fit to the 40-y Arctic (nonannual-cycle) decreases. Certainly the geographies of the 2 2 −1 yearly average ice extents is −54,740 ± 3,000 km ·y , which polar regions are vastly different, with the Arctic sea ice cover comes to a total loss of 2,134,860 km over the entire 40-y record. largely confined by surrounding continents and the Antarctic sea ice In just the 2014–2017 period, the Antarctic sea ice cover lost wide open to water to the north, contributing to large differences also 95% of this amount. in oceanic and atmospheric circulations and offering food for thought The one other several-year period during the time frame of on what might or might not be causing the differing rates of change. modern instrumental records with an estimated loss of hemi- Several studies have examined the extreme Antarctic sea ice spheric sea ice coverage comparably as rapid as that in the Ant- retreat in late 2016 and have related it to surrounding atmo- arctic in 2014–2017 was also in the Antarctic, although before the spheric and oceanic conditions (30–34). Among the likely in- start of the 40-y record of multichannel passive-microwave data, fluences discussed are the following: 1) a strong northerly coming instead in the mid-1970s. Calculations based on a variety atmospheric flow causing rapid ice retreat in the Weddell Sea of datasets, including satellite data, yielded 12-mo running means (30); 2) an unusually negative southern annular mode in No- in Antarctic sea ice extents that show rates of decrease of vember 2016 causing rapid ice retreat in the Ross Sea and 2 −1 ∼600,000 km ·y for the 4 y from the start of 1973 to the start of elsewhere (30–34); 3) the extreme El Niño that peaked months 1977 and for the 3-y subset from the start of 1974 to the start earlier, in December 2015 through February 2016, contributing to of 1977 (29). This yields an areal loss of Antarctic sea ice extents in unusually warm ocean waters in the Bellingshausen, Amundsen, 4 y exceeding the total loss suffered by the Arctic sea ice cover in and eastern Ross Seas, anomalous warmth that persisted into the Parkinson PNAS | July 16, 2019 | vol. 116 | no. 29 | 14421 ENVIRONMENTAL INAUGURAL ARTICLE SCIENCES Fig. 8. Monthly sea ice extent trends over the 40-y period 1979–2018 for the following: Weddell Sea (A); Indian Ocean (B); Western Pacific Ocean (C); Ross Sea (D); Bellingshausen/Amundsen Seas (E); and Southern Hemisphere as a whole (F). The plotted trend values are the slopes of the lines of linear least squares fit, and each data point has a vertical bar with tick marks at 1 and 2 SDs above and below the trend value. Single-letter abbreviations are used for months. austral spring (31); 4) a persistent zonal wave 3 atmospheric Thecasestudies focusing on Antarctic sea ice retreat in circulation around Antarctica contributing to reduced sea ice late 2016 illustrate well the interconnected global climate extents in the Indian Ocean, Ross Sea, Bellingshausen Sea, and system, as they tie the sea ice changes not just to circumstances in western Weddell Sea (32–34); and 5) a weakened polar strato- spheric vortex weakening the surface-level circumpolar west- erlies and contributing to reduced sea ice extents in the Indian and Pacific Oceans (32). None of the studies suggests that a single cause resulted in the extreme Antarctic sea ice retreat in 2016, all instead recognizing multiple influences, both atmo- spheric and oceanic. Table 2. Slopes and SDs of the lines of linear least squares fit for the Southern Ocean monthly sea ice extents, both for the 40-y record, 1979–2018, and, in parentheses, for the 36-y record, 1979–2014 3 2 −1 Month Slope, 10 km ·y R Slope, % per decade January 10.4 ± 9.0 (18.4 ± 8.8) 1.15 (2.10)2.2 ± 1.9 (3.9 ± 1.9) February 5.0 ± 5.8 (13.2 ± 5.8) 0.87 (2.25)1.7 ± 2.0 (4.6 ± 2.0) March 11.3 ± 7.3 (20.6 ± 7.3) 1.54 (2.83)3.0 ± 1.9 (5.6 ± 2.0) April 15.7 ± 9.5 (24.8 ± 9.5) 1.66 (2.60)2.4 ± 1.4 (3.8 ± 1.5) May 17.3 ± 8.7 (27.9 ± 8.4) 1.99 (3.33)1.8 ± 0.9 (2.9 ± 0.9) June 16.9 ± 7.4 (26.9 ± 7.4) 2.29 (3.62)1.3 ± 0.6 (2.1 ± 0.6) July 13.5 ± 5.5 (20.4 ± 5.7) 2.44 (3.55)0.9 ± 0.4 (1.3 ± 0.4) August 11.4 ± 5.0 (20.1 ± 5.3) 2.29 (3.80)0.7 ± 0.3 (1.2 ± 0.3) September 10.4 ± 5.8 (23.0 ± 5.7) 1.80 (4.03)0.6 ± 0.3 (1.3 ± 0.3) October 11.8 ± 5.3 (22.4 ± 5.2) 2.23 (4.30)0.7 ± 0.3 (1.3 ± 0.3) November 1.1 ± 6.7 (16.2 ± 5.5) 0.17 (2.94)0.1 ± 0.4 (1.0 ± 0.4) December 10.0 ± 10.9 (34.1 ± 9.9) 0.93 (3.46)1.0 ± 1.1 (3.5 ± 1.0) Theslopesand SDsare listedboth asthe areallosseachyearand as the percentage of the ice cover lost each decade. The R column gives the ratio of the slope magnitude for the areal loss to its SD, as a rough in- dicator of statistical significance, both for the 40-y record and for the 36-y Fig. 9. Four-year slopes of the yearly average hemispheric sea ice extents, record. Statistical significance at the 95% level or above is indicated in the starting with the slope of the least squares fit for 1979–1982 and ending R column by italics and statistical significance at the 99% level or above is with the slope for 2015–2018, for the Southern Hemisphere (A) and the indicated by boldface. Northern Hemisphere (B). 14422 | www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1906556116 Parkinson the vicinity of the sea ice but also to events in the tropical and where they are long enough and rich enough to enable the midlatitude oceans, the tropical and midlatitude atmosphere, linking of several of the modes and dipoles and oscillations now and the upper atmosphere (30–34). However, the sea ice re- spoken of separately, just as the El Niño and Southern Oscilla- treats in late 2016 occurred in just a few months of the 2014– tion phenomena were linked together years ago as ENSO; once 2017 period of extreme rates of Antarctic sea ice decreases. I that further linkage happens, the understanding of Earth’s very hope that the 40-y record discussed in this paper will encourage interconnected climate system, including the sea ice cover, could further studies into the atmospheric and oceanic conditions be markedly enhanced. that could have led to the extremely rapid 2014–2017 decline of the Antarctic sea ice cover, the comparably rapid decline in the ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. I thank Nick DiGirolamo (of Science Systems and mid-1970s, and the uneven but overall gradual increases in Applications, Inc.) for his assistance in the generation of the figures. Antarctic sea ice coverage in the intervening decades. More This work was funded by the NASA Earth Science Division at NASA broadly, the environmental datasets may be nearing the point Headquarters. 1. O. M. Johannessen, M. Miles, E. Bjorgo, The Arctic’s shrinking sea ice. Nature 376, 126– 19. N. C. Swart, J. C. Fyfe, The influence of recent Antarctic ice sheet retreat on simulated 127 (1995). sea ice area trends. Geophys. Res. Lett. 40, 4328–4332 (2013). 2. C. L. Parkinson, D. J. Cavalieri, P. Gloersen, H. J. Zwally, J. C. Comiso, Arctic sea ice 20. D. J. Cavalieri, C. L. Parkinson, P. Gloersen, J. C. Comiso, H. J. Zwally, Deriving long- extents, areas, and trends, 1978-1996. J. Geophys. Res. 104, 20837–20856 (1999). term time series of sea ice cover from satellite passive-microwave multisensor data 3. W. N. Meier et al., Arctic sea ice in transformation: A review of recent observed changes sets. J. Geophys. Res. 104, 15803–15814 (1999). and impacts on biology and human activity. Rev. Geophys. 51,185–217 (2014). 21. D. J. Cavalieri, C. L. Parkinson, N. DiGirolamo, A. Ivanoff, Intersensor calibration be- 4. M. O. Jeffries, J. E. Overland, D. K. Perovich, The Arctic shifts to a new normal. Phys. tween F13 SSMI and F17 SSMIS for global sea ice data records. IEEE Geosci. Remote Today 66,35–40 (2013). Sens. Lett. 9, 233–236 (2012). 5. J. E. Walsh, Melting ice: What is happening to Arctic sea ice, and what does it mean 22. P. Gloersen et al., Arctic and Antarctic Sea Ice, 1978-1987: Satellite Passive-Microwave for us? Oceanography 26, 171–181 (2013). Observations and Analysis (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Wash- 6. J. Stroeve, M. Holland, W. Meier, T. Scambos, M. Serreze, Arctic sea ice decline: Faster ington, DC, 1992). than forecast. Geophys. Res. Lett. 34, L09501 (2007). 23. J. R. Taylor, “Least-squares fitting” in An Introduction to Error Analysis: The Study of 7. H. J. Zwally, J. C. Comiso, C. L. Parkinson, D. J. Cavalieri, P. Gloersen, Variability of Uncertainties in Physical Measurements (University Science Books, Sausalito, CA, ed. 2, Antarctic sea ice 1979-1998. J. Geophys. Res. 107, 3041 (2002). 1997), pp. 181–207. 8. C. L. Parkinson, D. J. Cavalieri, Antarctic sea ice variability and trends, 1979-2010. 24. B. D. Santer et al., Statistical significance of trends and trend differences in layer- Cryosphere 6, 871–880 (2012). 9. I. Simmonds, Comparing and contrasting the behaviour of Arctic and Antarctic sea ice average atmospheric temperature time series. J. Geophys. Res. 105, 7337–7356 (2000). over the 35-year period 1979-2013. Ann. Glaciol. 56,18–28 (2015). 25. S. N. Goodman, STATISTICS. Aligning statistical and scientific reasoning. Science 352, 10. J. Turner, J. S. Hosking, T. J. Bracegirdle, G. J. Marshall, T. Phillips, Recent changes in 1180–1181 (2016). Antarctic sea ice. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. A Math. Phys. Eng. Sci. 373, 20140163 (2015). 26. D. J. Cavalieri, C. L. Parkinson, P. Gloersen, H. J. Zwally, Data from “Sea Ice Concen- 11. W. R. Hobbs et al., A review of recent changes in Southern Ocean sea ice, their drivers trations from Nimbus-7 SMMR and DMSP SSM/I-SSMIS Passive Microwave Data, Ver- and forcings. Glob. Planet. Change 143, 228–250 (2016). sion 1.” NASA National Snow and Ice Data Center Distributed Active Archive Center. 12. D. W. J. Thompson, S. Solomon, Interpretation of recent Southern Hemisphere cli- https://nsidc.org/data/NSIDC-0051/versions/1. Accessed 12 February 2019. mate change. Science 296, 895–899 (2002). 27. D. G. Vaughan et al., Recent rapid regional climate warming on the Antarctic Pen- 13. J. Turner et al., Non-annular atmospheric circulation change induced by stratospheric insula. Clim. Change 60, 243–274 (2003). ozone depletion and its role in the recent increase of Antarctic sea ice extent. Geo- 28. S. Gonzalez, D. Fortuny, How robust are the temperature trends on the Antarctic phys. Res. Lett. 36, L08502 (2009). Peninsula? Antarct. Sci. 30, 322–328 (2018). 14. M. Sigmond, J. C. Fyfe, Has the ozone hole contributed to increased Antarctic sea ice 29. G. Kukla, J. Gavin, Summer ice and carbon dioxide. Science 214, 497–503 (1981). extent? Geophys. Res. Lett. 37, L18502 (2010). 30. J. Turner et al., Unprecedented springtime retreat of Antarctic sea ice in 2016. Geo- 15. C. M. Bitz, L. M. Polvani, Antarctic climate response to stratospheric ozone depletion phys. Res. Lett. 44, 6868–6875 (2017). in a fine resolution ocean climate model. Geophys. Res. Lett. 39, L20705 (2012). 31. M. F. Stuecker, C. M. Bitz, K. C. Armour, Conditions leading to the unprecedented low 16. S. E. Stammerjohn, D. G. Martinson, R. C. Smith, X. Yuan, D. Rind, Trends in Antarctic Antarctic sea ice extent during the 2016 austral spring season. Geophys. Res. Lett. 44, annual sea ice retreat and advance and their relation to El Niño–Southern Oscillation 9008–9019 (2017). and southern annular mode variability. J. Geophys. Res. 113, C03S90 (2008). 32. G. Wang et al., Compounding tropical and stratospheric forcing of the record low 17. G. A. Meehl, J. M. Arblaster, C. M. Bitz, C. T. Y. Chung, H. Tang, Antarctic sea-ice Antarctic sea-ice in 2016. Nat. Commun. 10, 13 (2019). expansion between 2000 and 2014 driven by tropical Pacific decadal climate vari- 33. E. Schlosser, F. A. Haumann, M. N. Raphael, Atmospheric influences on the anomalous ability. Nat. Geosci. 9, 590–595 (2016). 2016 Antarctic sea ice decay. Cryosphere 12, 1103–1119 (2018). 18. R. Bintanja, G. J. van Oldenborgh, S. S. Drijfhout, B. Wouters, C. A. Katsman, Impor- 34. G. A. Meehl et al., Sustained ocean changes contributed to sudden Antarctic sea ice tant role for ocean warming and increased ice-shelf melt in Antarctic sea-ice ex- pansion. Nat. Geosci. 6, 376–379 (2013). retreat in late 2016. Nat. Commun. 10, 14 (2019). Parkinson PNAS | July 16, 2019 | vol. 116 | no. 29 | 14423 ENVIRONMENTAL INAUGURAL ARTICLE SCIENCES http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Pubmed Central

A 40-y record reveals gradual Antarctic sea ice increases followed by decreases at rates far exceeding the rates seen in the Arctic

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , Volume 116 (29) – Jul 1, 2019

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Abstract

A 40-y record reveals gradual Antarctic sea ice increases followed by decreases at rates far exceeding the rates seen in the Arctic a,1 Claire L. Parkinson Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory/Code 615, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771 This contribution is part of the special series of Inaugural Articles by members of the National Academy of Sciences elected in 2016. Contributed by Claire L. Parkinson, May 24, 2019 (sent for review April 16, 2019; reviewed by Will Hobbs and Douglas G. Martinson) Following over 3 decades of gradual but uneven increases in sea and 2018 are the lowest in the entire 1979–2018 record, essen- ice coverage, the yearly average Antarctic sea ice extents reached tially wiping out the 35 y of overall ice extent increases in just a 6 2 a record high of 12.8 × 10 km in 2014, followed by a decline so few years. This dramatic reversal in the changes occurring in the precipitous that they reached their lowest value in the 40-y 1979– Antarctic sea ice will provide valuable further information to test 2018 satellite multichannel passive-microwave record, 10.7 × earlier suggested explanations of the long-term Antarctic sea ice 6 2 10 km , in 2017. In contrast, it took the Arctic sea ice cover a full increases. We now have a 40-y multichannel passive-microwave 3 decades to register a loss that great in yearly average ice extents. satellite record of the Antarctic sea ice cover, all of which resides Still, when considering the 40-y record as a whole, the Antarctic in the Southern Ocean. The purpose of this paper is to present sea ice continues to have a positive overall trend in yearly average that record both for the Southern Ocean as a whole (labeled 2 −1 ice extents, although at 11,300 ± 5,300 km ·y , this trend is only “Southern Hemisphere” in the figures, to emphasize the inclusion 50% of the trend for 1979–2014, before the precipitous decline. of the entire hemispheric sea ice cover) and for the breakdown of Four of the 5 sectors into which the Antarctic sea ice cover is di- the Southern Ocean into the 5 sectors identified in Fig. 1. vided all also have 40-y positive trends that are well reduced from their 2014–2017 values. The one anomalous sector in this regard, Data and Methods the Bellingshausen/Amundsen Seas, has a 40-y negative trend, The data used throughout this paper come from a satellite-based multi- with the yearly average ice extents decreasing overall in the first channel passive-microwave data record begun in late 1978 following the 3 decades, reaching a minimum in 2007, and exhibiting an overall October 24, 1978 launch of the scanning multichannel microwave radiometer upward trend since 2007 (i.e., reflecting a reversal in the opposite (SMMR) on NASA’s Nimbus 7 satellite. The SMMR data are used in this study direction from the other 4 sectors and the Antarctic sea ice cover as for 1979 through mid-August 1987, followed by data from a sequence of the US Department of Defense’s Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) a whole). special sensor microwave imager (SSMI) instruments, the first of which was launched on the DMSP F8 satellite on June 18, 1987, and the follow-on DMSP sea ice climate change satellite Earth observations climate trends | | | | SSMI sounder (SSMIS) instruments, the first of which was launched on the Antarctic sea ice DMSP F16 satellite on October 18, 2003. Details on the intercalibration be- tween the data from successive instruments, to obtain a consistent long-term ince the late 1990s, it has been clear that the Arctic sea ice record, can be found in reports by Cavalieri et al. (20, 21). Scover has been decreasing in extent over the course of the Satellite passive-microwave data have major advantages over other data multichannel passive-microwave satellite record begun in late for studies of changes in the extent and distribution of the Antarctic sea ice 1978 (1–3). The decreases have accelerated since the 1990s and cover in recent decades. First, satellites allow monitoring of the full Antarctic sea ice cover every 1 or 2 d. Second, the satellite passive-microwave record have been part of a consistent suite of changes in the Arctic, including rising atmospheric temperatures, melting land ice, thawing permafrost, longer growing seasons, increased coastal Significance erosion, and warming oceans (4, 5). Overall, it has been a con- sistent picture solidly in line with the expectations of the A newly completed 40-y record of satellite observations is used warming climate predicted from increases in greenhouse gases. to quantify changes in Antarctic sea ice coverage since the late In particular, modeled sea ice predictions showed marked Arctic 1970s. Sea ice spreads over vast areas and has major impacts sea ice decreases, and the actual decreases even exceeded what on the rest of the climate system, reflecting solar radiation and the models predicted (6). restricting ocean/atmosphere exchanges. The satellite record The Antarctic situation has been quite different, with sea ice reveals that a gradual, decades-long overall increase in Ant- extent increasing overall for much of the period since 1978 (7– arctic sea ice extents reversed in 2014, with subsequent rates of 11). These increases have been far more puzzling than the Arctic decrease in 2014–2017 far exceeding the more widely publi- sea ice decreases and have led to a variety of suggested explana- cized decay rates experienced in the Arctic. The rapid decreases tions, from ties to the ozone hole (12, 13; rejected in refs. 14, 15); reduced the Antarctic sea ice extents to their lowest values in to ties to the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) (16), the the 40-y record, both on a yearly average basis (record low in Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (17), and/or the Amundsen Sea 2017) and on a monthly basis (record low in February 2017). Low (10, 13, 17); to ties to basal meltwater from the ice shelves (18; rejected in ref. 19). None of these has yet yielded a consensus Author contributions: C.L.P. designed research, performed research, analyzed data, and wrote the paper. view of why the long-term Antarctic sea ice increases occurred. Reviewers: W.H., University of Tasmania; and D.G.M., Columbia University. In the meantime, while the unexpected, decades-long overall The author declares no conflict of interest. increases in Antarctic sea ice extent are still being puzzled out, the sea ice extent has taken a dramatic turn from relatively This open access article is distributed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial- NoDerivatives License 4.0 (CC BY-NC-ND). gradual increases to rapid decreases. On a yearly average basis, Email: claire.l.parkinson@nasa.gov. the peak sea ice extent since 1978 came in 2014. Since then, the decreases have been so great that the yearly averages for 2017 Published online July 1, 2019. 14414–14423 | PNAS | July 16, 2019 | vol. 116 | no. 29 www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1906556116 95% level or above and R values above 2.712 would signify statistical sig- nificance at a 99% level or above; the corresponding values for a 36-y re- cord, also discussed below, are 2.032 and 2.728 for 95% and 99% significance, respectively. In view of the imperfect nature of tests of statis- tical significance when applied to the real world (24, 25), these numbers are only provided as rough indicators. The satellite passive-microwave datasets are available at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, CO, and on the NSIDC website, https://nsidc.org (26). Results Figs. 2–7 present plots of the monthly averages, monthly devia- tions, and yearly averages for the Southern Ocean as a whole (Fig. 2) and for each of the 5 sectors it is divided into in Fig. 1 (Figs. 3–7). Table 1 provides details on the yearly average trends and includes values for the 1979–2014 record before the sharp decline in ice extents as well as values for the full 40-y record. Full Southern Ocean. For the Southern Ocean as a whole, the quite prominent annual cycle has minimum monthly ice extent always (for the 40 y of the dataset, 1979–2018) occurring in February 6 2 and always well under 5 × 10 km and maximum ice extent occurring in September in all years except 1988, when it was in 6 2 October, and always well over 17 × 10 km (Fig. 2A). The monthly deviations and yearly averages depict clearly the overall upward trend in ice extents until 2014, when the yearly averages 6 2 reached a record high of 12.8 × 10 km , and marked decreases in the subsequent 3 y (Fig. 2 B and C), leading to a record low Fig. 1. Identification of the 5 sectors used in the regional analyses. These 6 2 monthly average sea ice extent of 2.29 × 10 km in February are identical to the sectors used in previous studies (7, 8). 2017 (Fig. 2A) and a record low yearly average sea ice extent of 6 2 10.75 × 10 km in 2017 (Fig. 2C). Despite the marked decreases in ice extent following the 2014 record high, the least squares extends back to the 1970s. Third, the microwave signal from sea ice is quite distinct from the microwave signal from liquid water. Fourth, the microwave trends remain positive, although at roughly half the magnitude of radiation is emitted from within the Earth/atmosphere system, rather than the 1979–2014 trends (Table 1). Specifically, the 1979–2018 2 −1 being reflected sunlight; hence, the measurements can be made irrespective trend of 11,200 ± 2,100 km ·y for the monthly deviations is 2 −1 of day or night conditions. Fifth, at appropriate microwave wavelengths, the only 50.7% of the 22,100 ± 2,000 km ·y slope of the trend line microwave radiation from the surface can travel through most cloud covers, 2 −1 for 1979–2014, and the 1979–2018 trend of 11,300 km ·y for allowing measurements under cloudy as well as cloud-free conditions. These the yearly averages is only 50.4% of the trend for 1979–2014 advantages result in a 40-y record covering all seasons of the year and allowing (Table 1). determination of large-scale changes in the Southern Ocean sea ice cover that The 5 sectors also all exhibit a strong annual cycle with would not be feasible without the satellite passive-microwave data. monthly ice extent minima frequently in February and maxima The microwave data were converted to sea ice concentrations (percent frequently in September, although with much greater in- areal coverages of sea ice) in each pixel (∼25 km × 25 km) of the gridded terannual variability than for the Southern Ocean as a whole. satellite data through the NASA team algorithm described in detail by Gloersen et al. (22). Sea ice extents were then calculated by summing, The following sections for the individual sectors highlight some throughout the region of interest, the areas of each pixel with a calculated of the regional and interannual variability in the Southern Ocean sea ice concentration of at least 15%. Ice extents are calculated for each day sea ice cover. of available data; yearly and monthly averages are calculated by averaging the daily ice extents for the year or month, respectively. Summer averages Weddell Sea. In the Weddell Sea, monthly minimum ice extent is are calculated by averaging the daily extents for January, February, and always in February, as in the Southern Ocean as a whole, but March; autumn averages are calculated by averaging the daily extents for monthly maximum ice extent varies more frequently from its April, May, and June; winter averages are calculated by averaging the daily typical September timing, being in August in 1992, 1994, 2004, extents for July, August, and September; and spring averages are calculated and 2017 and in October in 1997, 2002, 2015, and 2018 (Fig. 3A). by averaging the daily extents for October, November, and December. Interestingly, the highest Weddell Sea monthly average ice ex- Because the sea ice cover has a prominent annual cycle, long-term trends in tent in the 40-y record, in September 1980, was followed the next sea ice extents are more clearly depicted after removing the annual cycle. This summer by among the lowest February and March ice extents is done here both through yearly averaging, which removes considerable (Fig. 3A), and, similarly, relatively high September values in additional information as well as the annual cycle (e.g., monthly interannual 1987, 1992, and 2016 were all followed by below average Feb- variability, amplitude of the annual cycle, seasonality of the trends), and through the more information-retaining monthly deviations, calculated by ruary extents the next year. With other high September ice ex- subtracting from the individual month’s ice extent the average of the ice ex- tents (e.g., in 2007) not being followed by particularly low tents for that particular month throughout the 40-y record. For example, the February extents, this illustrates interannual variability and the monthly deviation for January 1979 is the ice extent for January 1979 minus difficulty of forecasting ice extents months in advance based the average of the ice extents for the 40 months of January 1979–2018. simply on current ice extents. High ice extents with low ice Trend lines are calculated for the monthly, seasonal, yearly, and monthly concentrations could bring about particularly effective decay deviation datasets through standard linear least squares, and the standard seasons, as could winds and ocean currents transporting to the deviations (SDs) of the trends are calculated based on the technique described region more warm air and water than normal. Similar to the by Taylor (23). The ratio (R) of the trend magnitude to its SD is given to Southern Ocean as a whole, the Weddell Sea experienced overall provide a rough indication of the relative statistical significance of the ice extent increases, on a yearly average basis, through 2014, trends, with higher R values suggesting greater significance. More specifi- although less convincingly (Table 1, with an R value of 1.88 cally, if assuming a 2-tailed t test and 38 degrees of freedom for the 40-y sea ice record, R values above 2.024 would signify statistical significance at a versus the Southern Ocean’s R value of 5.25) and with the Parkinson PNAS | July 16, 2019 | vol. 116 | no. 29 | 14415 ENVIRONMENTAL INAUGURAL ARTICLE SCIENCES Fig. 2. (A) Monthly average sea ice extents for the Southern Hemisphere, January 1979–December 2018. February extents are depicted in red, September extents in green, and all other extents in black. (Inset) The 40-y average annual cycle. Single-letter abbreviations are used for months. (B) Monthly deviations determined from the monthly average data of A, with the same monthly color coding and with the line of linear least squares fit and its slope and SD. (C) Yearly average sea ice extents and their line of linear least squares fit. The ice extents are derived from passive-microwave data from the NASA Nimbus 7and Department of Defense DMSP satellites. increases continuing, slightly, to 2015 (Fig. 3C). The Weddell ice extents from 2010 to 2011 was followed by a rebound in the Sea experienced marked ice extent decreases from 2015–2018, next 3 y and then a 2-y decrease resulting in the Indian Ocean falling just short of reaching its record minimum yearly ice extent record minimum yearly ice extent in 2016, before rebounding set in 1999 (Fig. 3C). somewhat in 2017 and 2018 (Fig. 4C). Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean is the one sector in which the Western Pacific Ocean. Like the Southern Ocean as a whole, the average annual cycle of monthly ice extents peaks in October Western Pacific Ocean has a February minimum and a Sep- rather than September. Still, its average annual cycle shares with tember maximum in its average annual cycle of sea ice extents, the other sectors a February minimum, making for the most although in the Western Pacific case, the October ice is nearly as asymmetric of these average cycles, with an 8-mo growth period extensive as the September ice and the August ice is not far and a 4-mo decay period (Fig. 4A, Inset). The month of minimum behind (Fig. 5A, Inset). The month of ice extent minimum in the monthly ice extent was February in all except 2 y (1986 and Western Pacific was February in each year except 1980, 1985, 2003), when it was March, while the month of maximum ice 1986, and 2017, when it was March, and the more variable month extent was October in 33 y and September in the remaining 7 y of maximum was August in 8 y, September in 15 y, and October (Fig. 4A). The Indian Ocean record high monthly ice extent was in 17 y (Fig. 5A). The largest deviations from normal came in reached in October 2010 (Fig. 4A), and the year of peak yearly September and October of 1989, when the ice cover was far less average ice extent was 2010 (Fig. 4C), 4 y earlier than the peak extensive than the average September and October ice covers for the Southern Ocean as a whole. A decrease in yearly average (Fig. 5B). Yearly ice extents in the Western Pacific increased 14416 | www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1906556116 Parkinson Fig. 3. (A) Monthly average sea ice extents in the Weddell Sea, 1979–2018. February extents are col- ored red, September extents green, and all others black. (Inset) The 40-y average annual cycle. (B) Monthly deviations, with the line of linear least squares fit and its slope and SD. (C) Yearly averages and their line of linear least squares fit. overall until reaching their record high in 2013, followed by a which also contained the 2 highest monthly values of the 40-y prominent downward trend from 2013–2018 (Fig. 5C). The record, the highest in September 1982 and the second highest in second highest yearly ice extent came decades earlier, in 1982, October 1982 (Fig. 5A). Table 1. Slopes and SDs of the lines of linear least squares fit for the yearly sea ice extents in the full Southern Ocean and each of the 5 sectors identified in Fig. 1, both for the 40-y record, 1979–2018, and, in parentheses, for the 36-y record, 1979–2014, before the reversal from overall sea ice increases to rapid decreases 3 2 −1 Sector Slope, 10 km ·y R Slope, % per decade Weddell Sea 4.0 ± 3.5 (7.0 ± 3.7) 1.13 (1.88) 1.0 ± 0.8 (1.7 ± 0.9) Indian Ocean 2.6 ± 1.8 (5.9 ± 1.8) 1.48 (3.23) 1.4 ± 0.9 (3.2 ± 1.0) Western Pacific Ocean 2.6 ± 1.3 (3.2 ± 1.6) 1.96 (1.98) 2.3 ± 1.2 (2.8 ± 1.4) Ross Sea 5.8 ± 2.9 (11.3 ± 3.0) 1.97 (3.75) 2.1 ± 1.1 (4.3 ± 1.1) Bellingshausen/Amundsen Seas −3.7 ± 1.8 (−4.9 ± 2.1) 2.02 (2.32) −2.5 ± 1.2 (−3.2 ± 1.4) Full Southern Ocean 11.3 ± 5.3 (22.4 ± 4.3) 2.12 (5.25) 1.0 ± 0.5 (2.0 ± 0.4) The slopes and SDs are listed both as the areal loss each year and as the percentage of the ice cover lost each decade. The R column gives the ratio of the slope magnitude for the areal loss to its SD (calculated before rounding to the 2 −1 nearest 100 km ·y ), as a rough indicator of statistical significance, both for the 40-y record and, in parentheses, for the 36-y record. Using the 2-tailed t test mentioned in the text, statistical significance at the 95% level or above is indicated in the R column by italics and statistical significance at the 99% level or above is indicated by boldface. The trend reversals since 2014 have markedly lessened the statistical significance of the trends. Parkinson PNAS | July 16, 2019 | vol. 116 | no. 29 | 14417 ENVIRONMENTAL INAUGURAL ARTICLE SCIENCES Fig. 4. (A) Monthly average sea ice extents in the Indian Ocean, 1979–2018. February extents are colored red, September extents green, and all others black. (Inset) The 40-y average annual cycle. (B) Monthly deviations, with the line of linear least squares fit and its slope and SD. (C) Yearly averages and their line of linear least squares fit. Ross Sea. The Ross Sea ice extent has a prominent, consistent more examples on the sector plots. What happens during the decay monthly minimum in February but large variability in its month season varies greatly depending on the surrounding atmospheric of maximum, which is July in 3 y, August in 8 y, September in 16 and oceanic conditions. y, October in 12 y, and November in 1 y (Fig. 6A). The record high monthly value came in September 2007, although the Bellingshausen/Amundsen Seas. The Bellingshausen/Amundsen highest yearly value was much earlier, in 1999 (Fig. 6 A and C). Seas is the sector most out of line with the rest of the Southern The overall but nonuniform reduction of sea ice coverage since Ocean, although sharing with each of the sectors the existence of the 2007 high led to an almost total disappearance of the sea ice substantial interannual variability (Fig. 7). In 11 y, its month of cover and record low in February 2017, with some rebounding minimum ice coverage was March rather than February, whereas the following year (Fig. 6A). The month that deviated the most no other sector had more than 4 y with a minimum month other from the average annual cycle was December 1979, in a year than February. The large variability in its month of maximum ice extent is more in line with the variability in the other sectors, when the ice cover had been below average since September being July in 2 y, August in 14 y, September in 20 y, and October (Fig. 6B). Further interannual variability can be illustrated by the in 4 y (Fig. 7A). However, the major contrast between the contrast between the September 2007 record high ice extent being followedthe next summer by aFebruaryalsowithanun- Bellingshausen/Amundsen Seas sector and the rest of the Southern usually high ice extent, versus the high September 1996 ice extent Ocean is that it had an overall downward trend in ice extents for being followed by a low February ice extent (Fig. 6A). This phe- most of the record, followed by an overall upward trend. This nomenon of high September ice extents being followed sometimes contrast corresponds well with the marked regional warming by high and sometimes by low February ice extents is mentioned recorded on the Antarctic Peninsula, adjacent to the Belling- also in the Weddell Sea section and could be illustrated with many shausen Sea, for the early decades of the 40-y record (27), a 14418 | www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1906556116 Parkinson Fig. 5. (A) Monthly average sea ice extents in the Western Pacific Ocean, 1979–2018. February extents are colored red, September extents green, and all others black. (Inset) The 40-y average annual cycle. (B) Monthly deviations, with the line of linear least squares fit and its slope and SD. (C) Yearly averages and their line of linear least squares fit. warming not recorded elsewhere on the continent, and the sub- for the full Southern Ocean were statistically significant at least sequent cooling over the Antarctic Peninsula (28). The yearly at the 95% level, and most were also significant at the 99% level, average ice extents in the Bellingshausen/Amundsen Seas reached for the 36-y record; for the 40-y record, only 4 remain statistically their minimum in 2007 (Fig. 7C), and although the upward significant at the 95% level and none are statistically significant trendsince 2007 did notresultinrecordhighyearlyice ex- at the 99% level (Table 2).] Through 2014, the Indian Ocean, tents (Fig. 7C), the record high monthly ice extent in the Western Pacific, and Ross Sea all also had positive trends in 2 −1 Bellingshausen/Amundsen Seas sector did come late in the record, each month (with ranges of 2,700–8,500 km ·y in the Indian 2 −1 in September 2015, despite the early decades of overall decreasing Ocean, 200–5,700 km ·y in the Western Pacific, and 3,100– 2 −1 sea ice coverage (Fig. 7A). Therecordlow iceextentcamein 17,700 km ·y in the Ross Sea), but now, with the full 40-y re- March 2010, in line with the general decrease in ice coverage in cord, only the Indian Ocean retains that commonality with the the first 3 decades of the record and the general increase in ice full Southern Ocean (Fig. 8). The Western Pacific and Ross Sea now both have 10 mo with positive trends and 2 mo with negative coverage since then (Fig. 7). or 0 trends (Fig. 8). The Weddell Sea has negative trends in Trends by Month. For the Southern Ocean as a whole, the 40-y sea winter and spring but positive trends in summer and autumn. ice extent trends remain positive for each of the 12 mo (Fig. 8 Once again, the Bellingshausen/AmundsenSeassector isout of and Table 2), and hence also for each of the 4 seasons. However, line with the rest of the Southern Ocean, as all 12 of its monthly the trend for November is close to 0 and far from statistical trends were negative earlier (8), but now with the 40-y record, 2 −1 significance, at 1,100 ± 6,700 km ·y , and every 40-y monthly its summer and autumn values remain negative, whereas its ice trend is far below the trend for the 36-y 1979–2014 period before extent trends in winter are positive and in autumn are mixed the recent sea ice declines (Table 2). [All of the monthly trends (Fig. 8). Parkinson PNAS | July 16, 2019 | vol. 116 | no. 29 | 14419 ENVIRONMENTAL INAUGURAL ARTICLE SCIENCES Fig. 6. (A) Monthly average sea ice extents in the Ross Sea, 1979–2018. February extents are colored red, September extents green, and all others black. (Inset) The 40-y average annual cycle. (B) Monthly deviations, with the line of linear least squares fit and its slope and SD. (C) Yearly averages and their line of linear least squares fit. Discussion The decline in yearly average Antarctic sea ice extents from 2014 to 2017 (followed by a slight rebound) was at a linear least The ice covers of each of the 5 sectors of Fig. 1 and of the 2 −1 squares rate of −729,000 km ·y , well exceeding the rate of Southern Ocean as a whole have experienced considerable in- change for either hemisphere in any other 4-y period during the terannual variability over the past 40 y (Figs. 2–7). In fact, the 40 y (1979–2018) of the satellite multichannel passive-microwave Southern Ocean and 4 of the 5 sectors (all except the Ross Sea) record (Fig. 9). The widely publicized sea ice decreases in the have each experienced at least one period since 1999 when the Arctic, even with their worrisome acceleration in the early 21st yearly average ice extents decreased for 3 or more straight years century, have never experienced (in the 40-y 1979–2018 record) a only to rebound again afterward and eventually reach levels ex- 4-y period with a rate of decrease in yearly average ice extents ceeding the extent preceding the 3 y of decreases (Figs. 2–7). 2 −1 exceeding in magnitude a value of −240,000 km ·y (Fig. 9B), This illustrates that the ice decreases since 2014 (Fig. 2) are no less than a third of the Antarctic rate of loss from 2014 to 2017. assurance that the 1979–2014 overall positive trend in Southern 2 In fact, the 2,027,000-km decrease in yearly average Antarctic Ocean ice extents has reversed to a long-term negative trend. ice extents in the 3 y from their 2014 maximum (12,776,000 km ) Only time and an extended observational record will reveal to their 2017 minimum (10,749,000 km ) (Fig. 2C) exceeds the whether the small increase in yearly average ice extents from loss in Arctic yearly average ice extents in any period of 33 y or 2017 to 2018 (Fig. 2C) is a blip in a long-term downward trend or less in the 40-y satellite multichannel passive-microwave record. the start of a rebound. Still, irrespective of what happens in the Based on the same SMMR/SSMI/SSMIS data source used for future, the 2014–2017 ice extent decreases were quite remark- the Antarctic, the Arctic ice cover had its 40-y peak yearly av- able compared not only with the rest of the 40-y Antarctic record erage ice extent in 1982, at 12,400,000 km , and its minimum in 2 2 but with the Arctic record as well. 2016, at 10,135,000 km , for a reduction of 2,265,000 km in 34 y. 14420 | www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1906556116 Parkinson Fig. 7. (A) Monthly average sea ice extents in the Bellingshausen/Amundsen Seas, 1979–2018. February extents are colored red, September extents green, and all others black. (Inset) The 40-y average annual cycle. (B) Monthly deviations, with the line of linear least squares fit and its slope and SD. (C) Yearly averages and their line of linear least squares fit. So, in 3 y, from 2014 to 2017, the Antarctic experienced a re- theentire40-y1979–2018 satellite multichannel passive-microwave duction of 89% of the total decrease of the Arctic yearly average record and raises the question of whether the Antarctic sea ice ice extents from their maximum in 1982 to their minimum in might be more amenable than the Arctic sea ice to very rapid 2016. The slope of the linear least squares fit to the 40-y Arctic (nonannual-cycle) decreases. Certainly the geographies of the 2 2 −1 yearly average ice extents is −54,740 ± 3,000 km ·y , which polar regions are vastly different, with the Arctic sea ice cover comes to a total loss of 2,134,860 km over the entire 40-y record. largely confined by surrounding continents and the Antarctic sea ice In just the 2014–2017 period, the Antarctic sea ice cover lost wide open to water to the north, contributing to large differences also 95% of this amount. in oceanic and atmospheric circulations and offering food for thought The one other several-year period during the time frame of on what might or might not be causing the differing rates of change. modern instrumental records with an estimated loss of hemi- Several studies have examined the extreme Antarctic sea ice spheric sea ice coverage comparably as rapid as that in the Ant- retreat in late 2016 and have related it to surrounding atmo- arctic in 2014–2017 was also in the Antarctic, although before the spheric and oceanic conditions (30–34). Among the likely in- start of the 40-y record of multichannel passive-microwave data, fluences discussed are the following: 1) a strong northerly coming instead in the mid-1970s. Calculations based on a variety atmospheric flow causing rapid ice retreat in the Weddell Sea of datasets, including satellite data, yielded 12-mo running means (30); 2) an unusually negative southern annular mode in No- in Antarctic sea ice extents that show rates of decrease of vember 2016 causing rapid ice retreat in the Ross Sea and 2 −1 ∼600,000 km ·y for the 4 y from the start of 1973 to the start of elsewhere (30–34); 3) the extreme El Niño that peaked months 1977 and for the 3-y subset from the start of 1974 to the start earlier, in December 2015 through February 2016, contributing to of 1977 (29). This yields an areal loss of Antarctic sea ice extents in unusually warm ocean waters in the Bellingshausen, Amundsen, 4 y exceeding the total loss suffered by the Arctic sea ice cover in and eastern Ross Seas, anomalous warmth that persisted into the Parkinson PNAS | July 16, 2019 | vol. 116 | no. 29 | 14421 ENVIRONMENTAL INAUGURAL ARTICLE SCIENCES Fig. 8. Monthly sea ice extent trends over the 40-y period 1979–2018 for the following: Weddell Sea (A); Indian Ocean (B); Western Pacific Ocean (C); Ross Sea (D); Bellingshausen/Amundsen Seas (E); and Southern Hemisphere as a whole (F). The plotted trend values are the slopes of the lines of linear least squares fit, and each data point has a vertical bar with tick marks at 1 and 2 SDs above and below the trend value. Single-letter abbreviations are used for months. austral spring (31); 4) a persistent zonal wave 3 atmospheric Thecasestudies focusing on Antarctic sea ice retreat in circulation around Antarctica contributing to reduced sea ice late 2016 illustrate well the interconnected global climate extents in the Indian Ocean, Ross Sea, Bellingshausen Sea, and system, as they tie the sea ice changes not just to circumstances in western Weddell Sea (32–34); and 5) a weakened polar strato- spheric vortex weakening the surface-level circumpolar west- erlies and contributing to reduced sea ice extents in the Indian and Pacific Oceans (32). None of the studies suggests that a single cause resulted in the extreme Antarctic sea ice retreat in 2016, all instead recognizing multiple influences, both atmo- spheric and oceanic. Table 2. Slopes and SDs of the lines of linear least squares fit for the Southern Ocean monthly sea ice extents, both for the 40-y record, 1979–2018, and, in parentheses, for the 36-y record, 1979–2014 3 2 −1 Month Slope, 10 km ·y R Slope, % per decade January 10.4 ± 9.0 (18.4 ± 8.8) 1.15 (2.10)2.2 ± 1.9 (3.9 ± 1.9) February 5.0 ± 5.8 (13.2 ± 5.8) 0.87 (2.25)1.7 ± 2.0 (4.6 ± 2.0) March 11.3 ± 7.3 (20.6 ± 7.3) 1.54 (2.83)3.0 ± 1.9 (5.6 ± 2.0) April 15.7 ± 9.5 (24.8 ± 9.5) 1.66 (2.60)2.4 ± 1.4 (3.8 ± 1.5) May 17.3 ± 8.7 (27.9 ± 8.4) 1.99 (3.33)1.8 ± 0.9 (2.9 ± 0.9) June 16.9 ± 7.4 (26.9 ± 7.4) 2.29 (3.62)1.3 ± 0.6 (2.1 ± 0.6) July 13.5 ± 5.5 (20.4 ± 5.7) 2.44 (3.55)0.9 ± 0.4 (1.3 ± 0.4) August 11.4 ± 5.0 (20.1 ± 5.3) 2.29 (3.80)0.7 ± 0.3 (1.2 ± 0.3) September 10.4 ± 5.8 (23.0 ± 5.7) 1.80 (4.03)0.6 ± 0.3 (1.3 ± 0.3) October 11.8 ± 5.3 (22.4 ± 5.2) 2.23 (4.30)0.7 ± 0.3 (1.3 ± 0.3) November 1.1 ± 6.7 (16.2 ± 5.5) 0.17 (2.94)0.1 ± 0.4 (1.0 ± 0.4) December 10.0 ± 10.9 (34.1 ± 9.9) 0.93 (3.46)1.0 ± 1.1 (3.5 ± 1.0) Theslopesand SDsare listedboth asthe areallosseachyearand as the percentage of the ice cover lost each decade. The R column gives the ratio of the slope magnitude for the areal loss to its SD, as a rough in- dicator of statistical significance, both for the 40-y record and for the 36-y Fig. 9. Four-year slopes of the yearly average hemispheric sea ice extents, record. Statistical significance at the 95% level or above is indicated in the starting with the slope of the least squares fit for 1979–1982 and ending R column by italics and statistical significance at the 99% level or above is with the slope for 2015–2018, for the Southern Hemisphere (A) and the indicated by boldface. Northern Hemisphere (B). 14422 | www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1906556116 Parkinson the vicinity of the sea ice but also to events in the tropical and where they are long enough and rich enough to enable the midlatitude oceans, the tropical and midlatitude atmosphere, linking of several of the modes and dipoles and oscillations now and the upper atmosphere (30–34). However, the sea ice re- spoken of separately, just as the El Niño and Southern Oscilla- treats in late 2016 occurred in just a few months of the 2014– tion phenomena were linked together years ago as ENSO; once 2017 period of extreme rates of Antarctic sea ice decreases. I that further linkage happens, the understanding of Earth’s very hope that the 40-y record discussed in this paper will encourage interconnected climate system, including the sea ice cover, could further studies into the atmospheric and oceanic conditions be markedly enhanced. that could have led to the extremely rapid 2014–2017 decline of the Antarctic sea ice cover, the comparably rapid decline in the ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. I thank Nick DiGirolamo (of Science Systems and mid-1970s, and the uneven but overall gradual increases in Applications, Inc.) for his assistance in the generation of the figures. Antarctic sea ice coverage in the intervening decades. 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