WAS*IS Seminar: Diagnosing the Recent Decline in Arctic Sea Ice and Prospects for the Future
Sheldon Drobot, Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research/College of Engineering and Applied Science University of Colorado, Boulder
NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory and NCAR Societal Impacts Program Seminar Series - Weather and Society Integrated Studies (WAS*IS)
- David Skaggs Research Center (NOAA Building) Room GC402
- 325 Broadway Boulder, Colorado
- Monday, July 28, 2008 2:00 -3:00 pm - discussion following
The decline in Arctic sea-ice is one of the more compelling and obvious signs of climate change. The total Arctic sea-ice extent has decreased by about 4% per decade from 1979–2007, with a larger decline of roughly 10% per decade from 1996–2007. The accelerating decline in Arctic sea-ice is driven by several record or near-record minima in sea-ice extent in the past few years, culminating in the exceptionally low 2007 sea-ice minimum cover of 4.13 million km2, which was 22% below the previous record set in 2005, and half as much as sea-ice minima from the 1950s through 1970s.
The rapid loss in sea ice raises numerous physical and societal questions, some of which include:
- Why is the ice decreasing?
- How well can we predict future ice conditions?
- What impacts will the loss of ice have on humans and the environment?
Drawing on my recent studies, as well as studies from the largerArctic research community, this presentation will explore these questions. Our current understanding suggests that the decline in Arctic sea-ice is related to a complex and possibly changing mixture of dynamic and thermodynamic forcings. This knowledge can be used to provide seasonal forecasts of Arctic sea-ice conditions, but decadal-scale forecasts are underestimating the recent ice loss. With respect to impacts of continued ice loss, the majority appear to be negative (e.g., loss of polar bear habitat), but there are some potential positives (e.g., navigable Northwest Passage). There also remain several unknowns, such as how weather patterns over the central USA may change.
Off-Site Guests: Mention the WAS*IS Seminar when checking in through DSRC security. See Visiting ESRL for more information about visiting the campus.
- Julie Singewald