A guest post by Steven Goddard
December is the month when the Antarctic sun is highest in the sky, and when the most sunlight reaches the surface. Thus an excess of ice in December has the maximum impact on the southern hemisphere’s radiative balance. In the Antarctic, the most important months are mid-October through mid-February, because those are months when the sun is closest to the zenith. The rest of the year there is almost no shortwave radiation to reflect, so the excess ice has little effect on the shortwave radiative (SW) balance.
So how does this work? Below are the details of this article’s thesis.
Antarctic sea ice forms at latitudes of about 55-75 degrees, whereas most Arctic ice forms closer to the pole at latitudes of 70-90 degrees. Because Antarctic ice is closer to the tropics than Arctic ice, and the sun there reaches a higher angle above the horizon, Antarctic sea ice receives significantly more solar radiation in summer than Arctic sea ice does in its’ summer. Thus the presence or absence of Antarctic ice has a larger impact on the SW radiative balance than does the presence or absence of Arctic ice.
thanks to wattsupwiththat