Sea Ice

    Annual Arctic sea ice minimum from 1979 to 2010

    This 35-second animation, produced by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Goddard Space Flight Center, shows Arctic sea ice from 1979 to 2010.

    Arctic Report Card

    An international team of research scientists has created this peer-reviewed website that tracks multiple changes in the arctic environment. The Report Card is organized by NOAA and will be updated annually.

    Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis

    Online newsletter from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Sea ice data are updated daily, with a one-day lag.

    Arctic sea ice: Changes in the cryosphere

    Video of a 2008 talk by Dr. Stephanie Pfirman, Department of Environmental Sciences, Barnard College. [54:09 min]

    Atlas of Inuit Sea Ice Knowledge and Use

    In this atlas you will learn about Inuit knowledge of sea ice (siku) around Baffin Island, Nunavut.

    Climate Change Lecture Series

    Recorded lectures from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Alaska Region, 2009-2011.

    Global outlook for ice and snow

    This 2007 report by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) investigates the connections between ice, snow, and climate change; the current situation of ice and snow; and the global significance of changes, now and in the years to come.

    Ice Mass Balance (IMB) Buoy Program

    Near real-time observations of the changing Arctic sea ice cover by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL).

    Ice, ocean, and eddies: An Arctic perspective on climate change

    Video presented by Robert Pinkel, PhD, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, as part of the 2008 series "Perspectives on Ocean Science." Dr. Pinkel provides a window into the cold world of Arctic oceanography and illustrates how the interplay between sea ice and ocean circulation impacts Earth's climate. [51:16 min]

    Impact of global warming on the Arctic

    C-Span video of the 2007 American Meteorological Society conference where scientists spoke about the impact of global warming on conditions in the Arctic, sea ice melt rates, and measured shrinking of polar ice sheets. [1:42:40 min]

    Melting snow and ice: A call for action

    Former Vice President Al Gore and Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre presented this global report on melting ice at a side event of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP 15) December 14, 2009.

    Melting trends: Arctic ice completely gone by 2020?

    ForaTv, 2009. Environmentalist Dan Miller discusses images of arctic ice melting trends at the North Pole. He argues that light once reflected off the surface of the melting ice is now being absorbed by water, priming a feedback loop that will continuously accelerate the melting process.

    NASA data show Arctic saw fastest August sea ice retreat on record

    For a four-week period in August 2008, sea ice melted faster during that period than ever before. This page has a link to a video clip produced by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. The video gives a general overview of recent arctic sea ice decline.

    Record low Arctic Sea ice extent for January

    NASA Earth Observatory (2011). During the Northern Hemisphere winter of 2010-2011, unusually cold temperatures and heavy snowstorms plagued North America and Europe, while conditions were unusually warm farther north. Now the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) has reported that Arctic sea ice was at its lowest extent ever recorded for January (since satellite records began).

    Sea Ice Group at the Geophysical Institute

    This site provides real-time data, including sea-ice videos and photo frames taken every five minutes from webcams in Barrow and in Wales, Alaska, sea-ice radar images updated every 10 minutes, and measurements of snow and ice thickness, local sea level, and water-ice-snow-air temperatures taken every 15 minutes. There are links to archived data.

    Snow, water, ice and permafrost in the Arctic (SWIPA)

    Reports and videos presenting the results of the Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic (SWIPA) assessment coordinated by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP).

    The big melt

    This is a series of articles published in the New York Times in October 2005 describing the effects of warming on the environment and on the four million people who live in the Arctic, and scientists' assessments of the inevitability of Arctic melting. Included are three videos: The Arctic Ice Cap where Andrew C. Revkin looks at the melting of the Arctic ice cap [7:19 min], Sampling the Ice where Revkin describes an expedition to drill samples in the Arctic [5:23 min], and Arctic Fisheries where Simon Romero looks at how changes in the Arctic may affect the Norwegian fishing industry [1:52 min].

    The emergence of surface-based Arctic amplification

    M.C. Serreze et al. The Cryosphere (2008) 2(4):601-622. Rises in surface and lower troposphere air temperatures through the 21st century are projected to be especially pronounced over the Arctic Ocean during the cold season. This Arctic amplification is largely driven by loss of the sea ice cover, allowing for strong heat transfers from the ocean to the atmosphere.

    The great ice mystery

    J. Copley. Nature (2000) 408:634-636. Changes in the extent and thickness of sea ice could alter ocean circulation and thus disrupt the climate.

    The Greenland Sea Jet: A mechanism for wind-driven sea ice export through Fram Strait

    J.H. van Angelen et al. Geophysical Research Letters (2011) 38:doi:10.1029/2011GL047837. The authors present a mechanism for wind-driven sea ice export from the Arctic Ocean through Fram Strait for the period 1979-2007, using the output of a high-resolution regional atmospheric climate model.

    The impact of a seasonally ice free Arctic Ocean on the climate and surface mass balance of Svalbard

    J.J. Day et al. Cryosphere (2011) 5(4):1887-1920. Svalbard, located on the present day sea ice edge, contains many low lying ice caps and glaciers which are extremely sensitive to changes in climate. Records of past accumulation indicate that the surface mass balance (SMB) of Svalbard is also sensitive to changes in the position of the sea ice edge.

    The impact of sea-ice dynamics on the Arctic climate system

    S. Vavrus, S.P. Harrison. Climate Dynamics (2002) 20(7-8):741-757. Five paired global climate model experiments, one with an ice pack that only responds thermodynamically (TI) and one including sea-ice dynamics (DI), were used to investigate the sensitivity of Arctic climates to sea-ice motion.

    The increase in the length of the ice-free season in the Arctic

    J. Rodrigues. Cold Regions Science and Technology (2009) 59(1):78-101. Daily sea ice concentrations obtained from satellite passive microwave imagery are used to calculate the length of the ice-free season and the inverse sea ice index in each point of the Arctic for each year between 1979 and 2008.

    The multiphase physics of sea ice: A review

    E.C. Hunke et al. Cryosphere (2011) 5(4):1949-1993. Rather than being solid throughout, sea ice contains liquid brine inclusions, solid salts, microalgae, trace elements, gases, and other impurities which all exist in the interstices of a porous, solid ice matrix. Sea ice salinity and microstructure are tightly interconnected and play a significant role in polar ecosystems and climate.

    The polar ice conundrum

    This is a page from Paul Hudson's Weather & Climate Blog. Hudson is a climate correpondent for BBC who reports on stories about climate change and its implications for people's everyday lives.

    The rapid decline of the sea ice in the Russian Arctic

    Cold Regions Science and Technology (2008) 54(2):124-142. A study of the sea ice concentrations obtained by passive microwave satellite imagery during the 1979-2007 period reveals remarkable changes in the sea ice cover of the Russian Arctic.

    The relationships between Arctic sea ice and cloud-related variables in the ERA-Interim reanalysis and CCSM3

    J. Cuzzone, S. Vavrus. Environmental Research Letters (2011) 6(1):014016. This study uses reanalysis data from ECMWF ERA-Interim and GCM output from the CCSM3 to investigate how sea ice and clouds interact locally (within individual grid boxes) and whether similar variability between the two datasets is captured.

    The response of Arctic sea ice to global change

    P. Lemke et al. Climatic Change (2000) 46(3):277-287. This paper discusses present sea ice modeling as well as the sensitivity of the sea ice cover to changes in the atmospheric boundary conditions.

    The science behind measuring Arctic ice

    K. Leitzell, Alaska Dispatch, August 16, 2011. Ice thickness is hard to measure, especially on a large scale. While some newer satellites can provide estimates of ice thickness, there is no long-term satellite record of ice thickness as there is for ice extent.

    The science behind the shrinking Arctic ice cap

    Online fact sheet published by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, September 2007. The Arctic ice cap declined to a record minimum size in summer 2007. Studies indicate this accelerated shrinkage of Arctic sea ice may be in response to a strong warming trend and that the climate reacts more strongly to a given amount of global warming than generally believed. (Archived version of webpage)

    Thermal evolution of diffusive transport of atmospheric halocarbons through artificial sea-ice

    M.D. Shaw et al. Atmospheric Environment (2011) 45(35):6393-6402. Diffusion through brine channels in sea-ice is a potential pathway for trace gases produced under and within sea-ice to exchange with the overlying atmosphere. The effectiveness of this transport pathway is highly dependent on temperature and sea-ice thickness, both of which are changing in favor of increased gas diffusion through porous sea-ice

    Thinning of the Arctic sea-ice cover

    D.A. Rothrock et al. Geophysical Research Letters (1999) 26(23):3469-3472. Comparison of sea-ice draft data acquired on submarine cruises between 1993 and 1997 with similar data acquired between 1958 and 1976 indicates that the mean ice draft at the end of the melt season has decreased by about 1.3 m in most of the deep water portion of the Arctic Ocean. (PDF, 535 KB)

    Total volume of Arctic ice shrank to record low in 2010

    D. O'Harra, Alaska Dispatch, September 6, 2011. The total volume of Arctic sea ice shrank last fall to the smallest amount ever observed during the age of satellites, according to a new study that used an ultra-sophisticated computer modeling program that incorporates ocean observations, submarine data, and space-age monitoring.

    Toward an integrated coastal sea-ice observatory: System components and a case study at Barrow, Alaska

    M.L. Druckenmiller et al. Cold Regions Science and Technology (2009) 56(2-3):61-72. The morphology, stability and duration of seasonal landfast sea ice in Alaska's coastal zone is changing alongside large-scale ice thinning and retreat. The extent and complexity of change at the local level requires an integrated observing approach to assess implications of such change for coastal ecosystems and communities that rely on or make use of the sea-ice cover.

    Trends in sea ice cover within habitats used by bowhead whales in the western Arctic

    S.E. Moore, K.L. Laidre. Ecological Applications (2006) 16(3):932-944. This analysis elucidates the variability inherent in the western Arctic marine ecosystem at scales relevant to bowhead whales and contrasts basin-scale depictions of extreme sea ice retreats, thinning, and wind-driven movements.

    Trends in the dates of ice freeze-up and breakup over Hudson Bay, Canada

    A.S. Gagnon, W.A. Gough. Arctic (2005) 58(4):370-382. To identify secular trends in the cryogenic cycle, this study examined variability in the timing of sea-ice formation and retreat during the period 1971-2003. (PDF, 621.1 KB)

    Unlocking the secrets of the Arctic's melting ice

    BBC News, May 27, 2011. A scientist hopes that a better understanding of what is happening beneath the Arctic ice will offer an insight into why summer sea ice is melting at rate that is alarming experts.

    Variability and changes of Arctic sea ice thickness distribution under different AO/DA states

    A. Oikkonen, J. Haapala. Cryosphere (2011) 5(1):131-167. In this paper, the authors determine the ice thickness distributions, mean and modal thicknesses, and their regional and seasonal variability in the Arctic under different large scale atmospheric circulation modes.

    Warm winds from the Pacific caused extensive Arctic sea-ice melt in summer 2007

    R.G. Graversen et al. Climate Dynamics (2010) DOI:10.1007/s00382-010-0809-z. The authors argue that the positive anomalies of net downward longwave radiation and turbulent fluxes played a key role in initiating the 2007 extreme ice melt, whereas the shortwave-radiation changes acted as an amplifying feedback mechanism in response to the melt.

    Warming North Atlantic water tied to heating Arctic

    Science Daily, January 28, 2011. The temperatures of North Atlantic Ocean water flowing north into the Arctic Ocean adjacent to Greenland—the warmest water in at least 2,000 years—are likely related to the amplification of global warming in the Arctic, says a new international study involving the University of Colorado Boulder.

    Why climate models underestimated Arctic sea ice retreat: No Arctic sea ice in summer by end of century?

    Science Daily, October 6, 2011. Researchers argue that climate models underestimate the rate of ice thinning, which is actually about four times faster than calculations, and that this model bias is due to the poor representation of the sea ice southward drift out of the Arctic basin through the Fram Strait.

    Why does an ice-free Arctic frighten scientists?

    D. O'Harra, Alaska Dispatch, September 7, 2011. With ice extent setting records or near records every September during the past decade—and other indicators suggesting that the floes have lost record amounts of volume—some scientists fear the polar sea will be virtually ice free during summer decades earlier than once thought possible.

    Winds from Siberia reduce Arctic sea ice cover, Norwegian researchers find

    Science Daily, April 28, 2010. The ice cover in the Arctic has decreased dramatically in recent years. Norwegian researchers have discovered that changes in air circulation patterns create winds that push away the ice.

    Young and thin instead of old and bulky: Researchers report on changes in Arctic sea ice after return of research vessel Polarstern

    Science Daily, October 6, 2011. In the central Arctic the proportion of old, thick sea ice has declined significantly. Instead, the ice cover now largely consists of thin, one-year-old floes. This is one of the results that scientists of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association brought back from the 26th Arctic expedition of the research vessel Polarstern.

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