On the Annual and Semi-Annual Components of Variations in Extent of Arctic and Antarctic Sea-Ice

by Lopes F, Courtillot, V. et al., 2023  in MDPIGeosciences


In this paper, the 1978–2022 series of northern (NHSI) and southern (SHSI) hemisphere sea ice extent are submitted to singular spectral analysis (SSA). The trends are quasi-linear, decreasing for NHSI (by 58,300 km2/yr) and increasing for SHSI (by 15,400 km2/yr). The amplitude of annual variation in the Antarctic is double that in the Arctic. The semi-annual components are in quadrature. The first three oscillatory components of both NHSI and SHSI, at 1, 1/2, and 1/3 yr, account for more than 95% of the signal variance. The trends are respectively 21 (Antarctic) and 4 times (Arctic) less than the amplitudes of the annual components. We next analyze variations in pole position (PM for polar motion, coordinates m1, m2) and length of day (lod). Whereas the SSA of the lod is dominated by the same first three components as sea ice, the SSA of the PM contains only the 1-yr forced annual oscillation and the Chandler 1.2-yr component. The 1-yr component of NHSI is in phase with that of the lod and in phase opposition with m1, while the reverse holds for the 1-yr component of SHSI. The semi-annual component appears in the lod and not in m1. The annual and semi-annual components of NHSI and SHSI are much larger than the trends, leading us to hypothesize that a geophysical or astronomical forcing might be preferable to the generally accepted forcing factors. The lack of modulation of the largest (SHSI) forced component does suggest an alternate mechanism. In Laplace’s theory of gravitation, the torques exerted by the Moon, Sun, and planets play the leading role as the source of forcing (modulation), leading to changes in the inclination of the Earth’s rotation axis and transferring stresses to the Earth’s envelopes. Laplace assumes that all masses on and in the Earth are set in motion by astronomical forces; more than variations in eccentricity, it is variations in the inclination of the rotation axis that lead to the large annual components of melting and re-freezing of sea-ice.