Seasonal to Decadal
Predictions of

 

Arctic Sea Ice

C H A L L E N G E S    A N D    S T R A T E G I E S

Committee on the Future of Arctic Sea Ice Research in Support of Seasonal to Decadal
Prediction

Polar Research Board

Division on Earth and Life Studies

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL

                            OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

Washington, D.C.

www.nap.edu



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Committee on the Future of Arctic Sea Ice Research in Support of Seasonal to Decadal Prediction Polar Research Board Division on Earth and Life Studies THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under grant number NNX11AJ41G, the Office of Naval Research under contract number N00014-10-0589/0006, and the United States intelligence community. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsoring agency or any of its subagencies. International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-26526-3 International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-26526-6 Additional copies of this report are available for sale from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; http://www.nap.edu/ . Copyright 2012 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America.

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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

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COMMITTEE ON THE FUTURE OF ARCTIC SEA ICE RESEARCH IN SUPPORT OF SEASONAL TO DECADAL PREDICTION JACKIE RICHTER-MENGE (Co-Chair), Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory JOHN E. WALSH (Co-Chair), University of Alaska, Fairbanks LAWSON W. BRIGHAM, University of Alaska, Fairbanks JENNIFER A. FRANCIS, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey MARIKA HOLLAND, National Center for Atmospheric Research SON V. NGHIEM, Jet Propulsion Laboratory ROBERT RAYE, Shell Projects and Technology REBECCA WOODGATE,* University of Washington NRC Staff KATIE THOMAS, Study Director LAUREN BROWN, Research Associate AMANDA PURCELL, Research Associate ALEXANDRA JAHN, Christine Mirzayan Fellow ELIZABETH FINKELMAN, Senior Program Assistant *Member through June 2012 v

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POLAR RESEARCH BOARD JAMES W. C. WHITE (Chair), University of Colorado, Boulder SRIDHAR ANANDAKRISHNAN, Pennsylvania State University, University Park JULIE BRIGHAM-GRETTE, University of Massachusetts, Amherst DAVID H. BROMWICH, Ohio State University, Columbus JENNIFER A. FRANCIS, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey EILEEN E. HOFMANN, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia BERNICE M. JOSEPH, University of Alaska, Fairbanks AMY LAUREN LOVECRAFT, University of Alaska, Fairbanks MOLLY E. MCCAMMON, Alaska Ocean Observing System, Anchorage ELLEN S. MOSLEY-THOMPSON, Ohio State University, Columbus GEORGE B. NEWTON, QinetiQ North America, Marstons Mills, Massachusetts CARYN REA, ConocoPhillips, Anchorage, Alaska VLADIMIR E. ROMANOVSKY, University of Alaska, Fairbanks GAIUS R. SHAVER, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts ALLAN T. WEATHERWAX, Siena College, Loudonville, New York Ex-Officio Members JACQUELINE M. GREBMEIER, University of Maryland, Solomons TERRY WILSON, Ohio State University, Columbus DENEB KARENTZ, University of San Francisco NRC Staff CHRIS ELFRING, Board Director LAURIE GELLER, Senior Program Officer KATIE THOMAS, Associate Program Officer LAUREN BROWN, Research Associate ELIZABETH FINKELMAN, Senior Program Assistant vi

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Preface Arctic sea ice plays important roles workshop focused on current major in moderating global climate and challenges in sea ice prediction. influencing oceanic and atmospheric Workshop participants were asked to circulation. Reductions in Arctic sea ice identify new methods, observations, and thickness and extent have been observed technologies that might advance over the past few decades and the trend seasonal to decadal sea ice predictive of shrinking Arctic sea ice cover is capabilities through improved expected to continue. While there are understanding of the Arctic system (see intrinsic limitations on Arctic sea ice Box 1.1 for full statement of task). predictability, some predictability The need for sea ice predictions is appears to reside in the initial ice/ocean driven by new challenges and state and in the longer-term trend. opportunities created by a changing However, our limited understanding of Arctic environment. Advancements are the coupled and complex interactions necessary to address the growing and among Arctic sea ice, oceans, increasingly urgent demands from a atmosphere, and land also hinders our broad array of stakeholders, with ability to predict the rate and magnitude concerns spanning various direct and of future variations. In addition, indirect scientific, technological, and although several efforts are under way to societal impacts such as the planning for better understand the role of Arctic sea new shipping ports, oil and gas ice in the broader context of the Arctic exploration, and increased marine climate system, and to forecast sea ice, transportation, as well as widespread there is also a need to better understand ecological changes. the role that sea ice plays beyond the The workshop was held May 9-10, polar region. 2012, at the University of Colorado in The National Research Council Boulder (Appendix B). Nearly 50 (NRC) Committee on the Future of workshop participants represented a Arctic Sea Ice Research in Support of wide spectrum of expertise in the Arctic Seasonal to Decadal Prediction was sea ice community. Key was the tasked to plan and conduct a workshop participation of a range of stakeholders with the goal of fostering a dialogue including scientists together with end- between polar scientists, agency user groups. This workshop organization representatives, and stakeholders. The helped focus the workshop discussions vii

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viii Seasonal to Decadal Predictions of Arctic Sea Ice: Challenges and Strategies on scientific research needs in the entire committee, we also want to connection with end-user operations. express gratitude to those associated The output from the workshop with the NRC staff who provided keen served to inform the committee in the insights, able direction, and tremendous preparation of this report. It is expected support to our endeavor. This includes that the report will be of interest to Alexandra Jahn, a Christine Mirzayan agencies with Arctic research programs Fellow, who prepared a background (e.g., National Science Foundation, document that was distributed to all Office of Naval Research, National workshop participants, summarizing Aeronautics and Space Administration, recent related work and activities. It also U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and includes board director Chris Elfring, National Oceanic and Atmospheric research associate Lauren Brown, project Administration) as well as policy assistants Amanda Purcell and Elizabeth makers, nongovernmental organizations, Finkelman, and especially our and others concerned about climate exceptional study director Katie change impacts in the North. It is also Thomas. Last but certainly not least is a anticipated that agencies with polar word of thanks to the dedicated operational and planning committee members, who volunteered responsibilities, such as the U.S. Navy or countless hours to this effort and the U.S. Coast Guard, will find the report enthusiastically contributed their of interest. expertise to the organization and Many individuals contributed to this implementation of the workshop and report. Particular thanks go to those who preparation of this report. took time from their busy schedules to participate in the workshop. Whether as Jackie Richter-Menge and John Walsh, panel members, breakout group leaders, Co-Chairs moderators, rapporteurs, or Committee on the Future of Arctic Sea Ice contributors, the participants readily Research in Support of Seasonal to decadal Prediction demonstrated the advantages of an integrative approach in identifying and discussing complex issues. On behalf of

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Acknowledgments This report was reviewed in draft Humfrey Melling, Fisheries and form by individuals chosen for their Oceans Canada diverse perspectives and technical Don Perovich, Cold Regions expertise in accordance with the Research and Engineering procedures approved by the National Laboratory Research Council (NRC) Report Review Caryn Rea, ConocoPhillips Committee. The purpose of this Mike Steele, University of independent review is to provide candid Washington and critical comments that will assist the NRC in making its published report as Although these reviewers provided sound as possible, and to ensure that the many constructive comments and report meets NRC institutional suggestions, they did not see the final standards for objectivity, evidence, and draft of the report before its release. The responsiveness to the study charge. The review of this report was overseen by review comments and draft manuscript Robin Bell, Lamont-Doherty Earth remain confidential to protect the Observatory of Columbia University. integrity of the deliberative process. We Appointed by the NRC, she was thank the following individuals for their responsible for making certain that an review of this report: independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with LCDR Ken Boda, U.S. Coast Guard institutional procedures and that all Jennifer Kay, National Center for review comments were carefully Atmospheric Research considered. Responsibility for the final Brendan Kelly, Office of Science and content of this report rests entirely with Technology Policy the authoring committee and the institution. ix

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Contents SUMMARY 1 1 INTRODUCTION 5 2 GAPS IN OUR UNDERSTANDING 15 Overarching Challenges, 15 Treating Sea Ice as Part of the Global System, 15 Impacts of the Regime Shift of Arctic Sea Ice, 16 Identifying Diverse and Emerging Stakeholder Requirements, 20 Challenges in Advancing Predictive Capability, 22 Competing Approaches to Seasonal Sea Ice Prediction, 22 Observational Requirements for Seasonal Sea Ice Prediction, 22 Projecting Realistic Forcings and Feedbacks for Decadal Sea Ice Predictions, 24 3 STRATEGIES FOR THE FUTURE 27 Overarching Strategy, 27 A Deliberately Integrative Approach for Sustained and Coordinated Collaboration among User, Modeling and Observation Communities, 27 Strategies to Improve Sea Ice Predictive Capabilities: Seasonal to Decadal Timescales, 31 Evaluation of Existing Seasonal Prediction Methods, 31 Process-Based Studies Targeted at the Increasingly Prevalent First-Year Ice Cover, 33 Model Sensitivity Studies to Determine Key, First-Order Observational Needs, 36 Enhanced Numerical Model Capabilities, 39 Knowledge Management, 42 Improved Information and Data Management, 42 4 CONCLUSION 45 REFERENCES 49 APPENDIXES A Summary of Recent and Evolving Arctic Sea Ice Predictability Efforts 61 B Workshop Information 65 C Summaries of Workshop Panels and Breakout Discussions 71 D Committee and Staff Biographical Sketches 77 xi

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Recent changes in Arctic sea ice cover are of interest to a wide variety of stakeholders, and there is an increasing demand for improved sea ice predictability. This image shows an example of pancake ice off the coast of Greenland. Image courtesy of Andy Mahoney.