Arctic exploration provides window on future climate change

Arctic exploration provides window on future climate change
Credit: Shutterstock

Climate model projections show that the Arctic Ocean will be completely ice-free by the summer by 2060. However, the record lows in sea ice extent of 2007 and 2012 demonstrated that these projections were too optimistic and some scientists think that we might see and ice free Arctic within this or the next decade. This momentous transformation will undoubtedly have important consequences for our climate, but opinions to the extent of the severity of this change vary.

In order to put in place timely and effective remedial action however, it is clear that we need to have the tools at hand to accurately monitor and assess exactly what is happening.

For this reason, the EU-funded DAMOCLES ('Developing Arctic Modelling and Observing Capabilities for Long-term Environmental Studies') project was established to improve Europe's Arctic modelling and observing capabilities. The ultimate objective is to identify and understand the changes that are currently happening in the sea-ice, atmosphere and ocean of the Arctic and subarctic region. Indeed, a key concern has been that while the rest of the world is monitored by meteorological and oceanic instruments, the Arctic has never been subject to a comparable level of monitoring.

In order to address this, the DAMOCLES brought together 48 - including 10 SMEs distributed among 11 European countries, Russia and Belarus - along with experts from the US, Russia, Canada and Japan. The project is part of an , truly global in both its ambition and nature, to jointly tackle the Arctic research challenges.

The tasks were highly complex, involving ships, aircraft, icebreakers, satellite recordings and the use of equipment underneath the ice. The team attached unmanned to drifting sea ice in order to measure the heat and salinity of the ocean. These buoys communicate with satellites and in real time to scientists in Europe.

Furthermore, were used to measure ocean temperature. An underwater loud speaker was lowered below the surface, along with a receiver. Because travel velocity of sound depends on temperature (for a given salinty), scientists are now able to monitor the water temperature at great distance with high accuracy and minimum expenditure. Torpedo-shaped robots were also used to measure temperature, salinity, pressure and speed as they travelled through the ocean at different depths.

Instruments were also anchored to the sea bed along the edge of the Arctic Ocean, where strong currents carry warm Atlantic waters from the North Atlantic into the central Arctic. This enables scientists to monitor the state of the ocean in a specific place over a long period of time. Instruments installed on drifting ice also provide a clearer picture of how fast Arctic ice is disappearing.

When data from early 2007 was entered into the DAMOCLES model, it correctly predicted the presence of large ice-free areas in the middle of the Arctic Ocean later on in the year. The project managed to improve Arctic monitoring, giving authorities a longer lead-time to prepare for the onset of extreme climate events.

Explore further

Study explores atmospheric impact of declining Arctic sea ice

More information: DAMOCLES
Provided by CORDIS
Citation: Arctic exploration provides window on future climate change (2013, July 12) retrieved 25 May 2019 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Jul 12, 2013
Former Believers Know What Consensus Really Is
We all agree that science agrees that; "Climate change is real and is happening and could lead to a climate crisis." Not once have they said "will" be, only "could" be. It's as if you fear mongers wanted this misery to be real for billions of helpless children. Who's the knuckle dragging fear mongering neocon again? Did Bush condemn your kids to the greenhouse gas ovens of an exaggerated crisis?
Prove me wrong; they have "never" agreed it will be a crisis, never as they have only agreed for 28 years that climate change just "could" be a crisis and have NEVER said anything more than "maybe" and "possibly". Find me the IPCC warning of crisis that says it will be a crisis, not just might be.
*Find me one single IPCC warning NOT swimming in "maybes" or one that says their crisis is "eventual", like they love to say comet hits are.
*IF it was real consensus that it will really happen not just might happen the scientists would have said so.
*If it really were a crisis they agreed would happen not just might happen they would have ended this costly debate 28 years ago and just said their comet hit of an emergency is "inevitable", like a comet hit is.
And get up to date:
*Occupywallstreet now does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded and corporate run carbon trading stock markets ruled by politicians.
*Canada killed Y2Kyoto with a freely elected climate change denying prime minister and nobody cared, especially the millions of scientists warning us of unstoppable warming (a comet hit).
*Julian Assange is of course a climate change denier.
*Obama had not mentioned the crisis in two State of the Unions addresses.

Jul 12, 2013
@mememine, You are a fool if you believe any of that. Just look at the opposite of every point you make, and that is the situation with climate change or global warming or AGW or whatever you fancy calling it. The facts are very plain and ordinary. The data is compelling and sound. The physics and modeling are solid. Your comments and logic are not.

Jul 16, 2013
me-me-mine continues to struggle with the rudiments of logic.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more