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Seasonal to Decadal Predictions of Arctic Sea Ice: Challenges and Strategies (2012)

Chapter: Appendix A: Summary of Recent and Evolving Arctic Sea Ice Predictability Efforts

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Summary of Recent and Evolving Arctic Sea Ice Predictability Efforts." National Research Council. 2012. Seasonal to Decadal Predictions of Arctic Sea Ice: Challenges and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13515.
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A

Summary of Recent and Evolving Arctic Sea Ice Predictability Efforts

(Provided to workshop participants as background information)

Forecasts of the sea ice minimum in summer have been collected and synthesized in the Study for Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) Sea Ice Outlook (ARCUS, 2010) since 2008, with several research groups in the United States, Canada, and Europe participating. The methods used by these groups vary, with some groups using models, some statistical methods, and others deterministic methods. Overall the goal of the SEARCH Sea Ice Outlook is not to issue sea ice predictions themselves, but to summarize and synthesize available information from the scientific community on the expected September Arctic sea ice minimum.

A related activity is the Arctic Observing Coordination Workshop, which was held in March 2012. The workshop was organized around the SEARCH 5-Year Science Goals and Objectives focusing on sea ice, permafrost, land-ice, and society/policy. The workshop participants concluded that the use of ocean observations to improve sea ice forecasting on various timescales (daily, seasonal, interannual, and decadal) would lead to safe marine operations, infrastructure/community planning, and ecosystem stewardship in the Arctic.

The increased user-demand for sea ice predictions coupled with the current lack of operational sea ice forecasting capability have also sparked two National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) workshops in 2010 and 2011 (NOAA, 2011), which were tasked with identifying actions NOAA could take over the next few years (2012-2014) to improve its sea ice forecasting capability. The report recommended that the Sea Ice Outlook should not only continue, but should also be converted to a formal program, potentially adding fall freeze-up dates and more detailed regional forecasts to the current predictions of the Arctic-wide sea ice minimum. Further improvements of sea ice models and coupled simulations are also needed to investigate the predictability of sea ice on decadal timescales.

The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) also recommended several actions related to Arctic sea ice in its “SWIPA 2011 Executive Summary” (AMAP, 2011) including: maintaining and supporting development of remote sensing methods for observing the cryosphere; expanding research into processes that are important for modeling the cryosphere; and

Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Summary of Recent and Evolving Arctic Sea Ice Predictability Efforts." National Research Council. 2012. Seasonal to Decadal Predictions of Arctic Sea Ice: Challenges and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13515.
×

making accurate forecasts for ice, weather, and sea conditions accessible to all Arctic residents and organizations.

Several organizations have focused their efforts on marine operations in the Arctic. An Arctic Roadmap report (US Navy, 2009) from the US Navy Task Force Climate Change outlined a 5-year plan for Navy operations and research in the Arctic. The report recommended the identification of a high-confidence timeline for increased access to the Arctic. It also recommended that the potential for developing high-resolution coupled, air-ocean-ice, prediction capability for the Arctic region be evaluated.

The Arctic Council’s Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment 2009 Report (Arctic Council, 2009) focused on current and future marine activity in the Arctic Ocean. The report called for research to improve regional models for increased understanding and enhanced forecasting of regional Arctic sea ice variability. Also noted is the need for comprehensive analyses of current and future global climate model simulations of Arctic sea ice extent to quantitatively assess the range of plausibility of ice-free and partially ice-covered conditions. The report also noted the importance of continued research on Arctic sea ice thickness atmosphere ocean ice forecasting. The Assessment also noted the importance of enhanced ice forecasting and prediction to improving Arctic marine safety and environmental protection (Arctic Council, 2009).

Several reports discuss the need for improved communications and increased stakeholder-involvement. A 2010 workshop by the SEARCH “Understanding Arctic Change Task Force” (ARCUS, 2010) concluded that there must be a clear understanding in the scientific community of what planners and decision makers require for predictions to be useful, and the scientific community must communicate the current predictive capabilities in clear and useful ways to stakeholders, while also quantifying and explaining uncertainties related to them.

Many of the recommendations from a 2010 report from the US Arctic Research Commission (USARC, 2010) focused on stakeholder needs for sea ice forecasts. The report notes that there is a need for communication between scientists, operational forecasting centers, and stakeholders. The decision-making community needs to clearly articulate the space and time domains over which it needs actionable scientific information and the science community needs to assess its readiness to provide this knowledge. These various communities should also hold forums on the issue of uncertainty and how to interpret and use these estimates in a proactive and positive manner.

Some efforts at increasing communication between different scientific communities have already been made. Observational and modeling communities met to discuss future needs for sea ice research at the Climate and Cryosphere (CliC) workshop in November 2011. These discussions sparked the creation of two white papers, outlining the observational needs for advancing sea ice modeling (Massonnet and Jahn, 2012) and polar climate modeling (Kay et al., 2012) as well as

Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Summary of Recent and Evolving Arctic Sea Ice Predictability Efforts." National Research Council. 2012. Seasonal to Decadal Predictions of Arctic Sea Ice: Challenges and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13515.
×

highlighting some of the challenges of comparing models with observations.

The World Climate Research Program (WCRP) workshops on sea ice predictability, which occurred in 2010 (WCRP, 2010) and in April 2012, brought together scientists from the modeling and observational sea ice communities. The aim of the workshops was the development of a draft implementation plan for a WCRP polar climate predictability initiative (WCRP, 2012).

REFERENCES

AMAP (Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme). Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic (SWIPA) Executive Summary 2011. Available at http://amap.no/swipa/SWIPA2011ExecutiveSummaryV2.pdf, accessed June 5, 2012.

Arctic Council. 2009. Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment 2009. Project Report. Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment Working Group. Available at http://library.arcticportal.org/1400/1/AMSA_2009_Report_2nd_print.pdf.

ARCUS (Arctic Research Consortium of the United States). 2010. Sea Ice Outlook. Available at http://www.arcus.org/search/seaiceoutlook/index.php, accessed November 8, 2012.

ARCUS. Understanding Arctic Change Workshop, September 29-October 1, 2010. Available at http://www.arcus.org/search/meetings/2010/understanding-arctic-change. Accessed June 5, 2012.

Kay, J. E., G. de Boer, and E. Hunke. 2012. On the observational needs for climate models in polar regions. Available at http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/staff/jenkay/pcwg/PCWG_workingdoc_obs4modelers_march13,2012.pdf, accessed June 5, 2012.

Massonnet, F., and A. Jahn. 2012. Observational needs for sea ice models. Available at http://www.astr.ucl.ac.be/users/fmasson/obs_CLIC_note.pdf, accessed June 5, 2012.

NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association). NOAA Sea Ice Forecasting—Workshop Summary. Available at http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/docs/NOAA_Sea_Ice_Forecasting_Workshop_Summary.pdf, accessed June 5, 2012.

University of Alaska Fairbanks—University of the Arctic Institute for Applied Circumpolar Policy. 2009. Considering a Roadmap Forward: The Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment: Workshop Report, L. W. Brigham and M. P. Sfraga, eds. Available at http://www.uarctic.org/AMSA_workshop_report_final_09.2010_-3FYy.pdf.file, accessed June 5, 2012.

USARC (U.S. Arctic Research Commission). 2010. Scaling Studies in Arctic System Science and Policy Support: A Call-to-Research, C. J. Vorosmarty, A. D. McGuire, and J. E. Hobbie, eds. Available at http://www.arctic.gov/publications/arctic_scaling.pdf, accessed June 5, 2012.

U.S. Navy. 2009. U.S. Navy Arctic Roadmap. Available at http://www.navy.mil/navydata/documents/USN_artic_roadmap.pdf, accessed June 5, 2011.

WCRP (World Climate Research Programme). 2010. WCRP Workshop on

Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Summary of Recent and Evolving Arctic Sea Ice Predictability Efforts." National Research Council. 2012. Seasonal to Decadal Predictions of Arctic Sea Ice: Challenges and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13515.
×

        Seasonal to Multi-Decadal Predictability of Polar Climate, October 25-29, 2010, Bergen, Norway. T.G. Shepherd, J. M. Arblaster, C. M. Bitz, T. Furevik, H. Goosse, V. M. Kattsov, J. Marshall, V. Ryabinin, and J. E. Walsh, eds. Available at http://www.wcrp-climate.org/documents/Polar_WCRP_Report.pdf, accessed June 5, 2012.

WCRP. 2012. WCRP/IASC Polar Climate Predictability Workshop, 2-4 April 2012, Toronto, Canada. Available at http://www.atmosp.physics.utoronto.ca/C-SPARC/Polar-WS-website/Polar-Workshop.html. Last modified February 28, 2012.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Summary of Recent and Evolving Arctic Sea Ice Predictability Efforts." National Research Council. 2012. Seasonal to Decadal Predictions of Arctic Sea Ice: Challenges and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13515.
×
Page 61
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Summary of Recent and Evolving Arctic Sea Ice Predictability Efforts." National Research Council. 2012. Seasonal to Decadal Predictions of Arctic Sea Ice: Challenges and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13515.
×
Page 62
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Summary of Recent and Evolving Arctic Sea Ice Predictability Efforts." National Research Council. 2012. Seasonal to Decadal Predictions of Arctic Sea Ice: Challenges and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13515.
×
Page 63
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Summary of Recent and Evolving Arctic Sea Ice Predictability Efforts." National Research Council. 2012. Seasonal to Decadal Predictions of Arctic Sea Ice: Challenges and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13515.
×
Page 64
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Recent well documented reductions in the thickness and extent of Arctic sea ice cover, which can be linked to the warming climate, are affecting the global climate system and are also affecting the global economic system as marine access to the Arctic region and natural resource development increase. Satellite data show that during each of the past six summers, sea ice cover has shrunk to its smallest in three decades. The composition of the ice is also changing, now containing a higher fraction of thin first-year ice instead of thicker multi-year ice.

Understanding and projecting future sea ice conditions is important to a growing number of stakeholders, including local populations, natural resource industries, fishing communities, commercial shippers, marine tourism operators, national security organizations, regulatory agencies, and the scientific research community. However, gaps in understanding the interactions between Arctic sea ice, oceans, and the atmosphere, along with an increasing rate of change in the nature and quantity of sea ice, is hampering accurate predictions. Although modeling has steadily improved, projections by every major modeling group failed to predict the record breaking drop in summer sea ice extent in September 2012.

Establishing sustained communication between the user, modeling, and observation communities could help reveal gaps in understanding, help balance the needs and expectations of different stakeholders, and ensure that resources are allocated to address the most pressing sea ice data needs. Seasonal-to-Decadal Predictions of Arctic Sea Ice: Challenges and Strategies explores these topics.

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