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Impacts of the variability of second-year ice types on the decline of the Arctic perennial sea-ice cover

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The observed rapid decline in the Arctic perennial ice cover is one of the most remarkable signals of change in the Arctic region. Updated data now show an even higher rate of decline of 9.8% decade −1 (1978–2005) than the previous report of 8.9% decade −1 (1978–2000). To gain insights into this decline, the variability of the second-year ice, which is the relatively thin component of the perennial ice cover, is studied. The perennial ice cover in the 1990s was observed to be highly variable, leading to relatively high production of second-year ice that may in part explain the observed ice thinning during the period and have triggered further decline. The microwave signature of second-year ice is shown to be different from that of the older multi-year ice types and, surprisingly, more similar to that of first-year ice. This in part explains why previous estimates of the area of multi-year ice during the winter period are considerably lower than the area of the perennial ice cover during the preceding summer. Analysis of multichannel cluster maps in conjunction with submarine ice-draft data indicates ability to detect regions covered primarily by second-year ice and hence to infer ice-thickness information from the microwave data. The periodic increase of second-year ice in the 1990s was apparently followed by continuous decline due in part to anomolously warm temperatures during the latter period that shortened the ice season and kept first-year ice from getting thick enough to survive the summer and become second year ice.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 2006

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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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