One of the disconnects the Church of Al Gore/IPCC has yet to address regarding so-called Global Warming is why is it the Arctic ice extent is receding (thus all the chicken-little screams) while the Antarctic ice extent is growing at historic rates. Given the fact CO2 levels are ubiquitous across the Earth, if this was really a global climate driver we should see higher temperatures (and less ice) across the globe, adjusted for latitude and the amount of land vs sea surface area. Here is the Northern ice extent plots from NOAA:

And here is the southern ice extent plots:


Well it seems we may have an answer to why the Arctic water temperatures were rising and the ice was melting - massive undersea volcanoes:
Recent massive volcanoes have risen from the ocean floor deep under the Arctic ice cap, spewing plumes of fragmented magma into the sea, scientists who filmed the aftermath reported Wednesday.

The eruptions - as big as the one that buried Pompei - took place in 1999 along the Gakkel Ridge, an underwater mountain chain snaking 1,800 kilometres (1,100 miles) from the northern tip of Greenland to Siberia.

Scientists suspected even at the time that a simultaneous series of earthquakes were linked to these volcanic spasms.

But when a team led of scientists led by Robert Sohn of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts finally got a first-ever glimpse of the ocean floor 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) beneath the Arctic pack ice, they were astonished.

What they saw was unmistakable evidence of explosive eruptions rather than the gradual secretion of lava bubbling up from Earth's mantle onto the ocean floor.
Folks need to understand that the Arctic Ocean is a fairly closed system because it resides in a large bowl shaped depression with only limited outlets that rise to much shallower depths, as seen in the following picture:

The natural basin that is the Arctic Ocean is possibly the reason why Arctic water temperatures were rising because the warming caused by these massive underwater explosions couldn't really circulate out of the basin. Is this the real culprit for why the ice and glaciers have been receding in the Arctic and ice as been growing in the Antarctic? Seems highly possible.

Update: In case folks are wondering the Gakkel Ridge is that ridge running through the middle of the basin (click to go to enlarged version).

© Wikimedia Commons
Update: Is it simply coincidence that the regions of the Arctic Ocean experiencing thin ice (which has so many 'scientists' blowing hot air about Global Warming) is the same region that is right over these massive undersea volcanoes just discovered?

Seriously, I doubt this is coincidence. I would need to see exact locations of the volcanoes, the deep sea current paths and a depth chart to be sure, but it seems obvious to me that the warm waters and thin ice are to the Russian side of the Lomonosov Ridge, which cuts the Arctic Ocean basin in half - the same side as the Gakkel Ridge where the volcanoes are. And it is not surprising the warm water from the volcanoes has risen to the surface and spread out into the shallow continental shelf where it stays warmers. That is exactly how one would expect the warm water to travel out of the hot spot near the North Pole.

Looks like the Arctic Ocean is going to be the place that destroys the Global Warming mythology. How appropriate!

Update: More here from National Geographic, which notes these eruptions generated the largest earthquake swarm in recorded history along these kinds of spreading ocean ridges.
This earthquake swarm was the largest in recorded history along a spreading mid-ocean ridge and prompted researchers to return to the area for further investigation.

In 2007 Sohn and his team stumbled across the glassy pyroclastic rock deposits while searching for hydrothermal vent fields in the Gakkel Ridge. Powerful eruptions sent a plume of carbon dioxide, helium, and liquid lava up into the Arctic waters. When the material cooled, rock debris fell to the ocean floor, he explained.
The article actually confirms some of my initial speculation on how this event could have created significant warming in the region that now shows thin ice.
"The dispersal of the particles does not necessarily indicate that the eruptions were highly energetic, only that the eruption heated the surrounding seawater and the rising plume of heated water carried the lava fragments upwards where currents could disperse them," Clague said.
And this article notes the swarm included over 300 quakes, which is why the region is now being investigated.
"The Gakkel Ridge is covered with sea-ice the whole year. To detect little earthquakes, which accompany geological processes, we have to deploy our seismometers on drifting ice floes." This unusual measuring method proved highly successful: in a first test in the summer 2001 - during the "Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge Expedition (AMORE)" on the research icebreaker Polarstern - the seismometers recorded explosive sounds by the minute, which originated from the seafloor of the volcanic region. "This was a rare and random recording of a submarine eruption in close proximity," says Schlindwein. "I postulated in 2001 that the volcano is still active. However, it seemed highly improbable to me that the recorded sounds originated from an explosive volcanic eruption, because of the water depth of 4 kilometres."

The scientist regards the matter differently after her participation in the Oden-Expedition 2007, during which systematic earthquake measurements were taken by Schlindwein's team in the active volcanic region: "Our endeavours now concentrate on reconstructing and understanding the explosive volcanic episodes from 1999 and 2001 by means of the accompanying earthquakes. We want to know, which geological features led to a gas pressure so high that it even enabled an explosive eruption in these water depths." Like Robert Reves-Sohn, she presumes that explosive eruptions are far more common in the scarcely explored ultraslow-spreading ridges than presumed so far.
And even more here:
The Arctic seabed is as explosive geologically as it is politically judging by the "fountains" of gas and molten lava that have been blasting out of underwater volcanoes near the North Pole.

"Explosive volatile discharge has clearly been a widespread, and ongoing, process," according to an international team that sent unmanned probes to the strange fiery world beneath the Arctic ice.

They returned with images and data showing that red-hot magma has been rising from deep inside the earth and blown the tops off dozens of submarine volcanoes, four kilometres below the ice. "Jets or fountains of material were probably blasted one, maybe even two, kilometres up into the water," says geophysicist Robert Sohn of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who led the expedition.
Again, why is it not plausible that the Arctic Melt is actually the result of volcanic activity that rivals that which buried Pompeii? Can the IPCC actually claim this historic level of volcanic activity is having negligible impact on Arctic Ice? Gimme a break.

Update: Reader Crosspatch pointed me to a site which can show comparisons of arctic ice depths across two years. So I decided to look at 1998 (before the volcanic explosions) and 1999 (after). Here is what the results show (click here to enlarge):

Dark Purple is thick ice, reds and yellows thin ice. What is interesting to note is the 1999 year shows the shallow edges thinning out dramatically - which makes sense. The heated sea water would rise and probably run across the thicker ice, spreading, and possibly settling against the north coast of Russia. It would take time to actually melt thick ice. So I did a second comparison, 1998 to 2000, to see what heating over time might do - and it looks like a hole starts to develop (red area) right about where these explosions and venting took place (click here to enlarge):

By 2001 the depth of snow and ice returns to typical levels. In fact, if you compare 2008 to 1999, 2008 is looking like it will do better. Anyway, I am not sure if this effected Arctic Ice depths and extent - but I cannot see how if couldn't have some effect.

Addendum: After getting some sleep on the matter I wanted to add one more observation to this. Ice thickness is important to the underwater shape of the ice sheet. As folks know with ice bergs, 90% of the ice mass extends below the water's surface. Areas of thick ice look like inverted mountains while areas of thin ice look like the valleys.

Super heated water rising from the sea floor would hit the upside down mountain peaks first, and then start to flow towards the thinner ice as it rises - which is why you could get hot spots (which would look like basins in relief on the bottom topology of the ice sheet). The interesting thing about the 2008 ice thickness data is it looks like it large, long 'valleys' formed, just like rushing water forms valleys from storm run off. I have added a 2006-2008 comparison to show these features.

In the 2006 picture the ice sheet is lumpy, where dark regions reflect where the ice protrudes the farthest underwater, the light purple being regions where the ice is not as deep, and red/yellow thin spots. 2006 is interesting because there was another warm spot forming off the coast of Russia - which could mean the volcanoes were active or whatever. But 2008 is interesting with its radiating bands of light and dark purples, looking just like valleys etched by flowing water from a single point along the same ridge as the volcanoes.

Am I seeing things? Who knows - again I don't have the data to do any analysis, don't have any seismic recordings to compare to the annual sea ice thickness, don't have current maps. Hopefully some real scientists will have the money and time to work this all out. Seems it would be prudent before we make today's energy prices a fond memory as we embark on a fool's errand to cut CO2 emissions to no effect.

Final Update: Sweetness & Light has a graph of what appears to be average ice thickness, which shows 1999 - the year of the massive eruptions - as the point when the Arctic Ice started melting in earnest:

Given the fact this graph looks to be from the bible of the Church of Al Gore it seems hard not to notice the 1999 impact from the volcanoes and demand an explanation from Gore and the IPCC.

Final, Final Update: It seems there is a lot of information out on the Arctic Ocean and these volcanoes which has not been correlated yet. Here is a 2007 news report on the Arctic Ocean circulation patterns, which have been shifting dramatically over the last 20 years or so. These shifting patterns are the result of salinity changes - which could be a direct result of the volcanic activity changing salinity levels and causing the changes. The take away conclusion from this is the activity is not driven by CO2 or "Global Warming":
A team of NASA and university scientists has detected an ongoing reversal in Arctic Ocean circulation triggered by atmospheric circulation changes that vary on decade-long time scales. The results suggest not all the large changes seen in Arctic climate in recent years are a result of long-term trends associated with global warming.
This is "NASA" too, as much as that extremist Hansen is (probably more so because these folks run the science missions, Hansen just attempts to understand the data and has a proven history of botching even that). Like I said way, way, way up in this now way too long post, it looks like the Global Warming myths may die cold death in the Arctic Ocean physical processes.