Researchers forecast 1 in 3 chance of record low sea ice in 2007

Apr 19, 2007

University of Colorado at Boulder researchers are forecasting a one in three chance that the 2007 minimum extent of sea ice across the Arctic region will set an all-time record low.

The researchers at CU-Boulder's Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research also say there is a 57 percent chance the 2007 sea-ice minimum will be lower than the 2006 minimum of 2.27 million square miles, now the second lowest on record. There is a 70 percent chance the 2007 sea-ice minimum will rank within the lowest five years on record, according to Research Associate Sheldon Drobot of CCAR's Arctic Regional Ice Forecasting System group in CU-Boulder's aerospace engineering sciences department.

Sea-ice extent is the area of an ocean covered by at least 15 percent ice. Declining sea ice in the Arctic is believed by researchers to be caused by higher winter temperatures due to greenhouse warming, said Drobot. Arctic sea ice has been declining since the late 1970s.

Researchers pay particular attention to September and March because they generally mark the annual minimum and maximum sea-ice extents respectively, said Drobot. On April 4, researchers from CU-Boulder's National Snow and Ice Data Center reported the maximum extent of this year's March Arctic sea ice, 5.7 million square miles, was the second-lowest maximum on satellite record.

While regional sea ice declines were sharpest in the western Arctic over the past few years, large declines also occurred last year in much of the eastern Arctic, according to Drobot. Such regional variation is of interest to the maritime industry, including government agencies, international shipping companies, energy exploration corporations and tourism cruise lines active in the far North, he said.

"The practical offshoot here is that people operating ships in Arctic waters can use these forecasts to try to plan activities several months in advance," said Drobot. The sea ice research by the CCAR group -- the only research group in the world currently making seasonal Arctic sea ice forecasts based on probability -- is funded by the National Science Foundation and NASA, he said.

The CCAR researchers used satellite data from the U.S. Department of Defense and temperature records from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for the forecasts, which they have been producing for five years, said Drobot. Updated forecasts will be provided throughout the spring and summer, he said.

Source: University of Colorado at Boulder

Explore further: NASA ocean data shows 'climate dance' of plankton

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA support key to glacier mapping efforts

1 hour ago

Thanks in part to support from NASA and the National Science Foundation, scientists have produced the first-ever detailed maps of bedrock beneath glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica. This new data will help ...

Arctic sea ice helps remove CO2 from the atmosphere

Sep 22, 2014

Climate change is a fact, and most of the warming is caused by human activity. The Arctic is now so warm that the extent of sea ice has decreased by about 30 pct. in summer and in winter, sea ice is getting ...

NASA air campaigns focus on Arctic climate impacts

Sep 17, 2014

Over the past few decades, average global temperatures have been on the rise, and this warming is happening two to three times faster in the Arctic. As the region's summer comes to a close, NASA is hard at ...

Weathering the storm

Sep 03, 2014

Old-timers sharing childhood stories about growing up in Maine sometimes recount hiking 10 miles uphill in 3 feet of snow to get to school—and home.

Recommended for you

Tropical Storm Rachel dwarfed by developing system 90E

4 hours ago

Tropical Storm Rachel is spinning down west of Mexico's Baja California, and another tropical low pressure area developing off the coast of southwestern Mexico dwarfs the tropical storm. NOAA's GOES-West ...

NASA ocean data shows 'climate dance' of plankton

7 hours ago

The greens and blues of the ocean color from NASA satellite data have provided new insights into how climate and ecosystem processes affect the growth cycles of phytoplankton—microscopic aquatic plants ...

Glaciers in the grand canyon of Mars?

9 hours ago

For decades, planetary geologists have speculated that glaciers might once have crept through Valles Marineris, the 2000-mile-long chasm that constitutes the Grand Canyon of Mars. Using satellite images, ...

NASA support key to glacier mapping efforts

9 hours ago

Thanks in part to support from NASA and the National Science Foundation, scientists have produced the first-ever detailed maps of bedrock beneath glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica. This new data will help ...

User comments : 0