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 email@example.com.
The paper is available at http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2011/2011GL048807.shtml
Vince Stricherz | EurekAlert!
Fast rising bedrock below West Antarctica reveals an extremely fluid Earth mantle
22.06.2018 | Technical University of Denmark
Polar ice may be softer than we thought
22.06.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.
Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...
Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...
Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.
Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...
The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.
Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.
An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.
Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...
13.06.2018 | Event News
08.06.2018 | Event News
05.06.2018 | Event News
22.06.2018 | Materials Sciences
22.06.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.06.2018 | Life Sciences