More ice than ever in Antarctica....
Yes....there is far more ice now than expected...
Thanks to the miracles of modern technology, we can also look at the departure from the average for ice mass in a given month. At present, the coverage of ice surrounding Antarctica is almost exactly two million square miles above where it is historically supposed to be at this time of year. It's farther above normal than it has ever been for any month in climatologic records. Around now, because it's summer down there and the ice is headed towards its annual low point, there should be about seven million square miles of it. That means, as data in University of Illinois' web publication Cryosphere Today shows, that there is nearly 30% more ice down in Antarctica than usual for this time of the year.
All of the IPCC's models of Antarctica in the 21st century forecast a gain in ice, as a warmer surrounding ocean evaporates more water, which subsequently falls in the form of snow when it hits the continent. It's simply too cold for rain in Antarctica, and it'll stay that way for a very long time.
Concerning Antarctica as a whole, the IPCC's new climate compendium notes "the lack of warming reflected in atmospheric temperatures averaged across the region." Other studies, such as Peter Doran's in Nature in 2003, show actual cooling in recent decades. (There is a small area of significant warming in the peninsula that points towards South America, but this is less than 2% of Antarctica's total land mass.)
There's brand new evidence, just published in mid-January in Geophysical Research Letters, of a striking increase in snowfall over that peninsula. The few snowfall records that are available elsewhere in Antarctica show considerable variation from decade to decade, so discriminating the "signal" of increased snowfall caused by global warming from all the rest of the "noise" may be very difficult indeed.
We see the same problem with hurricanes and global warming. Their strength and numbers vary considerably from year to year. 2005 was the most active year ever measured in the Atlantic Basin, while 2007 was one of the weakest in history. How do you find the fingerprint of global warming amidst such variation?
So it's not warming up, and the snowfall data are equivocal, yet the continent is experiencing a net loss of ice. How can this be, and is it even important? The current hypothesis is that warmer waters beneath the surface are somehow loosening the ice. That's plausible, but again, there's precious little proof of it.
And further, the bottom line is that there is more ice than ever surrounding Antarctica.