From: GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel
Published July 4, 2017 01:46 PM

Seasonality of Sea Ice Enhances Climate Warming in the Arctic

The sea ice cover of the Arctic Ocean shrinks rapidly with most ice loss observed during the summer months. A new study under participation of the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel recently published in the international peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports shows that this sea ice cover becomes increasingly seasonal. As the authors state the strongest changes in the Arctic can be expected to occur in the coming decade.

Last autumn and winter several stations in the Arctic noted the highest temperatures on record with anomalies of up to 16?C on some days. The constantly shrinking sea ice cover, which reaches its minimum in the Northern Hemisphere in September, plays a big role in setting up the Arctic for such records. The retreat enables warming of the surface waters during summer thus delaying freeze up in autumn, which in turn shortens the growing season and leaves the ice thinner and more vulnerable to melt in the next summer.

Two scientists from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA and the GEOMAR Helmholtz for Ocean Research Kiel used observational data and model simulations to show that the strongest change in the polar seas of the Northern Hemisphere happens now and in the next decade—and not later in the second half of the 21st century for which climate models project an ice-free ocean in summers.

Continue reading at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel

Photo Credits: Tom Haine

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