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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." 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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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

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." 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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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;
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Copyright 2012 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." 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.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine

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

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." 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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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." 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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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

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." 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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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

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." 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.
×

Preface

Arctic sea ice plays important roles in moderating global climate and influencing oceanic and atmospheric circulation. Reductions in Arctic sea ice thickness and extent have been observed over the past few decades and the trend of shrinking Arctic sea ice cover is expected to continue. While there are intrinsic limitations on Arctic sea ice predictability, some predictability appears to reside in the initial ice/ocean state and in the longer-term trend. However, our limited understanding of the coupled and complex interactions among Arctic sea ice, oceans, atmosphere, and land also hinders our ability to predict the rate and magnitude of future variations. In addition, although several efforts are under way to better understand the role of Arctic sea ice in the broader context of the Arctic climate system, and to forecast sea ice, there is also a need to better understand the role that sea ice plays beyond the polar region.

The National Research Council (NRC) Committee on the Future of Arctic Sea Ice Research in Support of Seasonal to Decadal Prediction was tasked to plan and conduct a workshop with the goal of fostering a dialogue between polar scientists, agency representatives, and stakeholders. The workshop focused on current major challenges in sea ice prediction. Workshop participants were asked to identify new methods, observations, and technologies that might advance seasonal to decadal sea ice predictive capabilities through improved understanding of the Arctic system (see Box 1.1 for full statement of task).

The need for sea ice predictions is driven by new challenges and opportunities created by a changing Arctic environment. Advancements are necessary to address the growing and increasingly urgent demands from a broad array of stakeholders, with concerns spanning various direct and indirect scientific, technological, and societal impacts such as the planning for new shipping ports, oil and gas exploration, and increased marine transportation, as well as widespread ecological changes.

The workshop was held May 9-10, 2012, at the University of Colorado in Boulder (Appendix B). Nearly 50 workshop participants represented a wide spectrum of expertise in the Arctic sea ice community. Key was the participation of a range of stakeholders including scientists together with end-user groups. This workshop organization helped focus the workshop discussions

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." 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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on scientific research needs in connection with end-user operations.

The output from the workshop served to inform the committee in the preparation of this report. It is expected that the report will be of interest to agencies with Arctic research programs (e.g., National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) as well as policy makers, nongovernmental organizations, and others concerned about climate change impacts in the North. It is also anticipated that agencies with polar operational and planning responsibilities, such as the U.S. Navy or the U.S. Coast Guard, will find the report of interest.

Many individuals contributed to this report. Particular thanks go to those who took time from their busy schedules to participate in the workshop. Whether as panel members, breakout group leaders, moderators, rapporteurs, or contributors, the participants readily demonstrated the advantages of an integrative approach in identifying and discussing complex issues. On behalf of the entire committee, we also want to express gratitude to those associated with the NRC staff who provided keen insights, able direction, and tremendous support to our endeavor. This includes Alexandra Jahn, a Christine Mirzayan Fellow, who prepared a background document that was distributed to all workshop participants, summarizing recent related work and activities. It also includes board director Chris Elfring, research associate Lauren Brown, project assistants Amanda Purcell and Elizabeth Finkelman, and especially our exceptional study director Katie Thomas. Last but certainly not least is a word of thanks to the dedicated committee members, who volunteered countless hours to this effort and enthusiastically contributed their expertise to the organization and implementation of the workshop and preparation of this report.

 

Jackie Richter-Menge and John Walsh,
Co-Chairs
Committee on the Future of Arctic Sea Ice
Research in Support of Seasonal to decadal
Prediction

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." 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.
×

Acknowledgments

This report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise in accordance with the procedures approved by the National Research Council (NRC) Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the NRC in making its published report as sound as possible, and to ensure that the report meets NRC institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We thank the following individuals for their review of this report:

LCDR Ken Boda, U.S. Coast Guard

Jennifer Kay, National Center for Atmospheric Research

Brendan Kelly, Office of Science and Technology Policy

Humfrey Melling, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Don Perovich, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory

Caryn Rea, ConocoPhillips

Mike Steele, University of Washington

Although these reviewers provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they did not see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Robin Bell, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. Appointed by the NRC, she was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." 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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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." 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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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." 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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image

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.

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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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