Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Arctic Sea Ice

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Arctic Sea Ice

Article excerpt

Relatively accurate predictions for the amount of Arctic sea ice in a given summer can be made by assessing conditions the previous autumn, new University of Washington (UW)-led research shows.

Current conditions form an important starting point that governs how the ice responds to weather in the course of a few years, 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," says 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 in Geophysical Research Letters. Coauthors are Cecilia Bitz, a UW atmospheric sciences professor, and Marika Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado.

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Research from the National Snow and Ice Data Center indicates the low point of this summer's Arctic sea-ice cover was 36% 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. …

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