Arctic Sea Ice Decline and Ice Export Between Greenland and Svalbard
The Arctic sea ice is shrinking, both in extent and thickness. In addition to the humanmade contribution to the sea ice loss, there are also natural factors contributing to this loss. In a new study from the Bjerknes Centre we focus on one of these factors: the ice export through the large gateway between Greenland and Svalbard -- the Fram Strait.
Most of the sea ice that leaves the Arctic, exits through the Fram Strait. In recent years, this ice export has been higher than in any decade between the late 1950s and up to today. The area of the ice floating through the Fram Strait is now about 200 thousand km2 larger than in the late 1950s, which is similar to the total area of the United Kingdom.
This increase in the export contributes to the Arctic sea ice loss, as shown in a recent study (Smedsrud et al., 2008). Our climate models also show that the Arctic is loosing sea ice, but it is not known how they represent the ice export in the Fram Strait.
We have therefore investigated the ice export in 6 current climate models that provides 24 different simulations. Perhaps surprisingly, most of these coarse resolution models manage to reproduce a realistic seasonal cycle of the ice export, with more ice floating through the strait during winter than summer.
Article continues at Science Daily
Image credit: SVS/NASA