Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Older Arctic sea ice replaced by young, thin ice

14.01.2008
A new study by University of Colorado at Boulder researchers indicates older, multi-year sea ice in the Arctic is giving way to younger, thinner ice, making it more susceptible to record summer sea-ice lows like the one that occurred in 2007.

The team used satellite data going back to 1982 to reconstruct past Arctic sea ice conditions, concluding there has been a nearly complete loss of the oldest, thickest ice and that 58 percent of the remaining perennial ice is thin and only 2-to-3 years old, said the lead study author, Research Professor James Maslanik of CU-Boulder's Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research.

In the mid-1980s, only 35 percent of the sea ice was that young and that thin according to the study, the first to quantify the magnitude of the Arctic sea ice retreat using data on the age of the ice and its thickness, he said.

"This thinner, younger ice makes the Arctic much more susceptible to rapid melt," Maslanik said. "Our concern is that if the Arctic continues to get kicked hard enough toward one physical state, it becomes increasingly difficult to reestablish the sea ice conditions of 20 or 30 years ago."

A September 2007 study by CU-Boulder's National Snow and Ice Data Center indicated last year's average sea ice extent minimum was the lowest on record, shattering the previous September 2005 record by 23 percent. The minimum extent was lower than the previous record by about 1 million square miles -- an area about the size of Alaska and Texas combined.

The new study by Maslanik and his colleagues appears in the Jan. 10 issue of Geophysical Research Letters. Co-authors include CCAR's Charles Fowler, Sheldon Drobot and William Emery, as well as Julienne Stroeve from CU-Boulder's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and Jay Zwally and Donghui Yi from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The portion of ice more than five years old within the multi-year Arctic icepack decreased from 31 percent in 1988 to 10 percent in 2007, according to the study. Ice 7 years or older, which made up 21 percent of the multi-year Arctic ice cover in 1988, made up only 5 percent in 2007, the research team reported.

The researchers used passive microwave, visible infrared radar and laser altimeter satellite data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as ocean buoys to measure and track sections of sea ice.

The team developed "signatures" of individual ice sections roughly 15 miles square using their thickness, roughness, snow depth and ridge characteristics, tracking them over the seasons and years as they moved around the Arctic via winds and currents, Emery said. "We followed the ice in sequential images and track it back to where it had been previously, which allowed us to infer the relative ages of the ice sections."

The replacement of older, thicker Arctic ice by younger, thinner ice, combined with the effects of warming, unusual atmospheric circulation patterns and increased melting from solar radiation absorbed by open waters in 2007 all have contributed to the phenomenon, said Drobot. "These conditions are setting the Arctic up for additional, significant melting because of the positive feedback loop that plays back on itself."

"Taken together, these changes suggest that the Arctic Ocean is approaching a point where a return to pre-1990s ice conditions becomes increasingly difficult and where large, abrupt changes in summer ice cover as in 2007 may become the norm," the research team wrote in Geophysical Research Letters.

James Maslanik | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.colorado.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Turning the Climate Tide by 2020
29.06.2017 | Potsdam-Institut für Klimafolgenforschung

nachricht Predicting eruptions using satellites and math
28.06.2017 | Frontiers

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making Waves

Computer scientists use wave packet theory to develop realistic, detailed water wave simulations in real time. Their results will be presented at this year’s SIGGRAPH conference.

Think about the last time you were at a lake, river, or the ocean. Remember the ripples of the water, the waves crashing against the rocks, the wake following...

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nanostructures taste the rainbow

29.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technique unveils 'matrix' inside tissues and tumors

29.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Cystic fibrosis alters the structure of mucus in airways

29.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>