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Correlation and trend studies of the sea-ice cover and surface temperatures in the Arctic

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Co-registered and continuous satellite data of sea-ice concentrations and surface ice temperatures from1981to 2000 are analyzed to evaluate relationships between these two critical climate parameters and what they reveal in tandem about the changing Arctic environment. During the 19 year period, the Arctic ice extent and actual ice area are shown to be declining at a rate of -2.0 ± 0.3% dec-1 and 3.1 ± 0.4% dec-1, respectively, while the surface ice temperature has been increasing at 0.4 ± 0.2 K dec-1, where dec is decade. The extent and area of the perennial ice cover, estimated from summer minimum values, have been declining at a much faster rate of -6.7 ± 2.4% dec-1 and -8.3 ± 2.4% dec-1, respectively, while the surface ice temperature has been increasing at 0.9 ± 0.6 K dec-1. This unusual rate of decline is accompanied by a very variable summer ice cover in the 1990s compared to the 1980s, suggesting increases in the fraction of the relatively thin second-year, and hence a thinning in the perennial, ice cover during the last two decades. Yearly anomaly maps show that the ice-concentration anomalies are predominantly positive in the 1980s and negative in the 1990s, while surface temperature anomalies were mainly negative in the 1980s and positive in the 1990s. The yearly ice-concentration and surface temperature anomalies are highly correlated, indicating a strong link especially in the seasonal region and around the periphery of the perennial ice cover. The surface temperature anomalies also reveal the spatial scope of each warming (or cooling) phenomenon that usually extends beyond the boundaries of the sea-ice cover.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2002-01-01

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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