Arctic Sea Ice To EXPAND For A Decade?

Arctic sea ice on the Chukchi Sea
Credit: University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

The most recent version of the most powerful climate modeling software in the world, the Community Climate System Model, a computer climate model created by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) surprisingly found that in some of the runs of the simulation, Arctic sea ice actually halted its retreat or even expanded for a decade.

Reported in a summary, Arctic ice melt could pause in near future, then resume again, by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, NCAR scientist Jennifer Kay, the lead author of a study to be published in Geophysical Research Letters  said  “One of the results that surprised us all was the number of computer simulations that indicated a temporary halt to the loss of the ice,” “The computer simulations suggest that we could see a 10-year period of stable ice or even a slight increase in the extent of the ice.”

The simulations indicated that Arctic sea ice is equally likely to expand or contract over short time periods under the climate conditions of the late 20th and early 21st century.

On the ‘flip side’ though, Kay says “When you start looking at longer-term trends, 50 or 60 years, there’s no escaping the loss of ice in the summer”.  Although the  new simulations provide new insights, the paper cautions that longer-term observations are needed to better understand the variability on Arctic ice.

According to UCAR, since accurate satellite measurements became available in 1979, the extent of summertime Arctic sea ice has shrunk by about one third. The ice returns each winter, but the extent shrank to a record low in September 2007 and is again extremely low this year, already setting a monthly record low for July.

On the other hand, only 32 years have  passed since 1979, which is a miniscule sliver of time relative to Earth’s age, making analysis difficult at best. One very large volcanic eruption and we could all be looking at a mini ice-age…

So, should I be stocking up on shorts and short sleeve shirts, or winter jackets and mittens…
Beachfront, or mountaintop…


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