reference : The thinning of Arctic sea ice, 1988–2003: Have we passed a tipping point?

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Bibliographic fields
reftype Journal Article
Abstract Recent observations of summer Arctic sea ice over the satellite era show that record or near-record lows for the ice extent occurred in the years 2002–05. To determine the physical processes contributing to these changes in the Arctic pack ice, model results from a regional coupled ice–ocean model have been analyzed. Since 1988 the thickness of the simulated basinwide ice thinned by 1.31 m or 43%. The thinning is greatest along the coast in the sector from the Chukchi Sea to the Beaufort Sea to Greenland. It is hypothesized that the thinning since 1988 is due to preconditioning, a trigger, and positive feedbacks: 1) the fall, winter, and spring air temperatures over the Arctic Ocean have gradually increased over the last 50 yr, leading to reduced thickness of first-year ice at the start of summer; 2) a temporary shift, starting in 1989, of two principal climate indexes (the Arctic Oscillation and Pacific Decadal Oscillation) caused a flushing of some of the older, thicker ice out of the basin and an increase in the summer open water extent; and 3) the increasing amounts of summer open water allow for increasing absorption of solar radiation, which melts the ice, warms the water, and promotes creation of thinner first-year ice, ice that often entirely melts by the end of the subsequent summer. Internal thermodynamic changes related to the positive ice–albedo feedback, not external forcing, dominate the thinning processes over the last 16 yr. This feedback continues to drive the thinning after the climate indexes return to near-normal conditions in the late 1990s. The late 1980s and early 1990s could be considered a tipping point during which the ice–ocean system began to enter a new era of thinning ice and increasing summer open water because of positive feedbacks. It remains to be seen if this era will persist or if a sustained cooling period can reverse the processes.
Author R. W. Lindsay; J. Zhang
DOI 10.1175/jcli3587.1
Issue 22
Journal Journal of Climate
Pages 4879-4894
Title The thinning of Arctic sea ice, 1988–2003: Have we passed a tipping point?
Volume 18
Year 2005
Bibliographic identifiers
.reference_type 0
_record_number 20661
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