Impacts of climate change on Arctic sea-ice
Katharine Giles, Ann Keen, Helene Hewitt, Seymour Laxon, Sheldon Bacon, Daniel Feltham, Chris Folland, Tim Graham, Ed Hawkins, Daniel Hodson, Laura Jackson, Sarah Keeley, Matthew Menary, Matthew Palmer, Jeff Ridley, Doug Smith, Meric Srokosz, Alex West and Richard Wood
Giles, K., Keen, A., Hewitt, H., Laxon, S., Bacon, S., Feltham, D., Folland, C., Graham, T., Hawkins, E., Hodson, D., et al. (2013) Impacts of climate change on Arctic sea-ice, MCCIP Science Review 2013: 13-19, doi:10.14465/2013.arc02.013-019
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Arctic sea-ice extent has declined at a rate of over 4% per decade since satellite records began in 1979. This rate is faster in the summer season (13% per decade in September) with a record low occuring in 2012. There is also evidence that the ice has thinned at a rate of approximately 60 cm per decade.
The September sea-ice extent can be influenced by the state of the sea ice at the end of the previous winter, the heat content of the Arctic Ocean and the synoptic weather conditions. Model studies suggest that some (5 to 44%) of the decline can be attributed to natural variability.
Models predict that the Arctic ocean will become ice free in the summer between 2030-2080
Potential impacts of the reduction in sea-ice extent are both climatic (e.g. changes to the weather in the UK and Europe and the global climate) and socio-economic (e.g. new shipping routes, offshore mineral exploration).
Both improvements to models and a sustained observation system are required to reduce uncertainty in predicting changes to the sea-ice cover and its impacts and to better understand the physics of the atmosphere-ice-ocean system.