A new analysis of computer models coupled with the most recent summer ice measurements indicates that the Arctic might lose most of its ice cover in summer in 30 years.
Scientists don't expect the Arctic to become totally ice free, because ice will remain along northern Canada and Greenland. Powerful winds there sweep across the Arctic Ocean, forcing ice layers to slide on top of each other, building up a very thick ice cover.
"The Arctic is changing faster than anticipated," says James Overland of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). "It's a combination of natural variability, along with warmer air and sea conditions caused by increased greenhouse gases."
Overland and Muyin Wang of the University of Washington, in Seattle, will publish their findings on April 3 in Geophysical Research Letters, a publication of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).
The amount of the Arctic Ocean covered by ice at the end of summer by 2037 could be only about 1 million square kilometers (about 620,000 square miles.) That's compared to today's ice extent of 4.6 million square kilometers (2.8 million square miles.) So much more open water could be a boon for shipping and for extracting minerals and oil from the seabed, but it could also cause an ecosystem upheaval.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 assessed what might happen in the Arctic in the future by running 23 global climate models. But Wang, a climate scientist, and Overland, an oceanographer with NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, reasoned that dramatic declines in the extent of ice at the end of summer in 2007 and 2008 called for a more refined approach.
The new projections are based on those six of the 23 models that are most suited for assessing sea ice, according to Wang, the lead author of the study. She and Overland sought models that best matched what has actually happened in recent years. Among the models eliminated were those showing way too little ice or way too much ice compared to conditions that have occurred.
Wang says she and Overland chose models that accurately reflect the difference between summer and winter ice packs. That distinction demonstrates the model's ability to take into account changing amounts of solar radiation. Among the six models fitting the researchers' criteria, three have sophisticated sea-ice physics and dynamics capabilities.
Once the extent of ice at the end of summer drops to 4.6 million square kilometers -- it was actually 4.3 million square kilometers in 2007 and 4.7 million in 2008 -- all six models show rapid sea-ice declines. Averaged together, the models point to a nearly ice-free Arctic in 32 years, with some of the models putting the event as early as 11 years from now.
Maria-Jose Vinas | American Geophysical Union
NASA finds newly formed tropical storm lan over open waters
17.10.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
The melting ice makes the sea around Greenland less saline
16.10.2017 | Aarhus University
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences