Although the Statement of Task does not explicitly mention stakeholders, it was the committee’s view that a report on needs in sea ice prediction would be seriously deficient if stakeholders were not a prominent part of the underlying discussion. A similar sentiment was also raised in a recent NRC report: “IPY-related predictive modeling will continue to play a crucial role in helping commercial enterprises, individuals, and governments assess the regional and global risks associated with ongoing melting ice, sea level rise, permafrost degradation, and other effects of rising polar temperatures in a warming world” (NRC, 2012a).
Further, the committee and workshop participants observed that the motivational questions posed in the Statement of Task were not unique to this activity. Rather, they are questions that are often asked of researchers involved in observing and modeling the Arctic sea ice cover. This realization led the committee to consider additional, more overarching questions in the preparation of this report: (1) Given the significant investments and the progress that has been made in observing and modeling the Arctic sea ice cover, why are we not further advanced in the ability to predict its condition on seasonal to decadal timescales? (2) How can we apply the tools and insights we have developed in a systematic way to more effectively address the questions posed in the Statement of Task?
After presenting a series of key science questions, Chapter 2 identifies gaps and challenges related to understanding and predicting Arctic sea ice evolution. It begins with a set of overarching challenges that are foundational, including issues related to the Arctic environment and its stakeholders.
These overarching challenges are followed by challenges and gaps that are more specific to sea ice predictions, laid out as a function of timescale from seasonal to decadal. Chapter 3 presents possible strategies to significantly advance our understanding and predictions of Arctic sea ice over seasonal to decadal timescales. The organization of Chapter 3 is designed to generally follow the order of key challenges, though there is not a direct correspondence between the highlighted points made in Chapter 2. Examples of recent and ongoing activities are provided throughout Chapter 3 to demonstrate successful approaches that have been designed and implemented to address related issues. Key challenges and strategies are denoted in gray boxes throughout Chapters 2 and 3. Chapter 4 concludes with summary comments. Definitions of terms used throughout the report are provided in Box 1.2. This report does not make specific recommendations because of the reliance on the workshop in developing the ideas put forward in this report and the relatively short tenure for deliberations and analysis. The report does not include extensive background information. The interested reader is encouraged to utilize the numerous references and website links provided throughout the text.