Recent Variability in Sea Ice Cover, Age, and Thickness in the Pacific Arctic Region
Over the past several decades, there has been a fundamental shift in sea ice cover, age, and thickness across the Pacific Arctic Region (PAR). Satellite data reveal that trends in sea ice cover have been spatially heterogeneous, with significant declines in the Chukchi Sea, slight declines in the Bering Strait region, yet increases in the northern Bering Sea south of St. Lawrence Island. Declines in the annual persistence of seasonal sea ice cover in the Chukchi Sea and Bering Strait region are due to both earlier sea ice breakup and later sea ice formation. However, increases in the persistence of seasonal sea ice cover south of St. Lawrence Island occur primarily owing to earlier sea ice formation during winter months. Satellite-based observations of sea ice age along with modeled sea ice thickness provide further insight into recent sea ice variability throughout the PAR, with widespread transitions towards younger, thinner ice. Investigation of sea ice cover, age, and thickness in concert provides critical insight into ongoing changes in the total volume of ice and therefore the future trajectory of sea ice throughout the PAR, as well as its likely impacts on ecosystem productivity across all trophic levels.
KeywordsSea ice Bering Sea Chukchi Sea Sea ice age Sea ice thickness Satellite data
This research was in part supported by the NASA Cryospheric Sciences Program (Grant NNX10AH71G to K. Frey, and Grants NNX07AR21G and NNX11AI48G to J. Maslanik) and the NSF Arctic Sciences Division (Grants ARC-0804773 and ARC-1107645 to K. Frey, and Grant ARC-0712950 to J. Maslanik). P. Panday is thanked for assistance in satellite data processing. Funding support for the development, integration, and analyses of results from the NAME model (to W. Maslowski and J. Clement Kinney) was provided by multiple grants from the Arctic System Science (ARCSS) Program of the National Science Foundation, the Climate Change Prediction Program of the Department of Energy, and the Office of Naval Research. Computer resources were provided by the Department of Defense High Performance Computer Modernization Program (DOD/HPCMP).
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