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
Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere
25.10.2016 | American Geophysical Union
Enormous dome in central Andes driven by huge magma body beneath it
25.10.2016 | University of California - Santa Cruz
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences
25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
25.10.2016 | Process Engineering