Articles | Volume 11, issue 5
The Cryosphere, 11, 2111–2116, 2017
The Cryosphere, 11, 2111–2116, 2017

Brief communication 07 Sep 2017

Brief communication | 07 Sep 2017

Brief communication: Increasing shortwave absorption over the Arctic Ocean is not balanced by trends in the Antarctic

Christian Katlein1, Stefan Hendricks1, and Jeffrey Key2 Christian Katlein et al.
  • 1Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 2Center for Satellite Applications and Research, NOAA/NESDIS, Madison, Wisconsin, USA

Abstract. On the basis of a new, consistent, long-term observational satellite dataset we show that, despite the observed increase of sea ice extent in the Antarctic, absorption of solar shortwave radiation in the Southern Ocean poleward of 60° latitude is not decreasing. The observations hence show that the small increase in Antarctic sea ice extent does not compensate for the combined effect of retreating Arctic sea ice and changes in cloud cover, which both result in a total increase in solar shortwave energy deposited into the polar oceans.

Short summary
In the public debate, increasing sea ice extent in the Antarctic is often highlighted as counter-indicative of global warming. Here we show that the slight increases in Antarctic sea ice extent are not able to counter Arctic losses. Using bipolar satellite observations, we demonstrate that even in the Antarctic polar ocean solar shortwave energy absorption is increasing in accordance with strongly increasing shortwave energy absorption in the Arctic Ocean rather than compensating Arctic losses.