Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Model provides successful seasonal forecast for the fate of Arctic sea ice

23.09.2011
Relatively accurate predictions for the extent of Arctic sea ice in a given summer can be made by assessing conditions the previous autumn, but forecasting conditions more than five years into the future depend on understanding the impact of climate trends on the ice pack, new research shows.

Current conditions form an important starting point that governs how the ice responds to weather in the course of a few years, University of Washington-led research shows. But eventually climate trends overtake that starting point as the primary influence on the overall predictability of sea ice conditions.

"The Arctic is one of the places where conditions are changing the fastest of any climate system in the world," said Edward Blanchard-Wrigglesworth, a UW doctoral student in atmospheric sciences. "Current trends are so strong that it takes five years to establish a new mean."

Blanchard-Wrigglesworth is lead author of a paper explaining the research published Wednesday (Sept. 21) in Geophysical Research Letters. Co-authors are Cecilia Bitz, a UW atmospheric sciences professor, and Marika Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado.

Research from the National Snow and Ice Data Center indicates the low point of this summer's Arctic sea ice cover was 36 percent less than the average minimum from 1979 through 2000, and was just a fraction above the record low in 2007.

In the new study, the scientists used the Community Climate System Model version 4, one of only a few models that have successfully simulated the rate of Arctic sea ice decline that has occurred so far.

They found that measurements of ice thickness and area in September could provide a good gauge for what the ice expanse would be like at its low ebb the following summer, July through September.

Such predictions are important for shipping – knowing whether the Northeast and Northwest passages might be ice-free in summer, for example – or for natural resource interests such as oil exploration. They also are important for native populations who depend on the sea ice for their livelihoods and to conservationists trying to preserve species such as polar bears.

Measuring the area of Arctic sea ice is relatively simple for satellites, Blanchard-Wrigglesworth said, but determining the thickness – and thus the volume – is much trickier and something for which satellites have only produced reasonable estimates in the last 10 years or so.

"The key thing about assessing the model is comparing the model's trend and variability to real-world conditions," he said. "With a successful comparison, we believe the predictive results we see in the model are relevant to the real world."

Since the current sea ice conditions are instrumental in forecasting conditions only a few years in the future, they don't tell scientists what lies in store for the icepack at the top of the world in the coming decades. Many scientists believe the Arctic could be completely free of sea ice in summer by the middle of this century.

Based on the model's results using projections for increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, Blanchard-Wrigglesworth agrees.

"It's reasonable to think the planet will follow the model fairly closely if the forcing conditions evolve as they are predicted to," he said.

The work was funded by the National Science Foundation, and computing support was provided by the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

For more information, contact Blanchard-Wrigglesworth at ed@atmos.washington.edu.

The paper is available at http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2011/2011GL048807.shtml

Vince Stricherz | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uw.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Tiny microenvironments in the ocean hold clues to global nitrogen cycle
23.04.2018 | University of Rochester

nachricht Clear as mud: Desiccation cracks help reveal the shape of water on Mars
20.04.2018 | Geological Society of America

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tiny microenvironments in the ocean hold clues to global nitrogen cycle

23.04.2018 | Earth Sciences

Joining metals without welding

23.04.2018 | Trade Fair News

Researchers illuminate the path to a new era of microelectronics

23.04.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>