1. The programme framework is ready
  2. Venue stood the test
  3. Committees ready to start working
  4. 1st Circular: Call for session proposals
  5. Oslo's new signature
  6. POLARCAT won the race for first proposal
  7. All programme proposals welcome
  8. IPY Open science in St.Petersburg
  9. Programme of 39 sessions
  10. Offer to registered participants: 30 percent discount on excursion to Svalbard
  11. IASC provides travel support to early career scientists
  12. 2nd Circular: Call for abstracts
  13. Time to get a booth at PolarEXPO!
  14. PolarCINEMA ready to receive polar films and TV-documentaries
  15. Steven Chown to be awarded the Martha T Muse Prize at IPY-OSC
  16. The IPY ‘From Knowledge to Action’ Conference to be held in Montreal in 2012
  17. Unique opportunity for science teachers
  18. A new precedent for the involvement of early career scientists
  19. Several opportunities to get travel support
  20. More than 2200 abstracts submitted on deadline
  21. Registration now open
  22. 400 stipends distributed to early career polar scientists
  23. Get your Letter of Invitation
  24. Invitations out for the PolarTEACHERS conference
  25. PolarCINEMA committee very satisfied with the turnout
  26. More than 2500 abstracts accepted
  27. RV Oceania to Oslo for IPY-OSC
  28. Institutions invited to indicate interest for the PolarFESTIVAL
  29. Poster guidelines
  30. Time slots allocated for sessions
  31. Book before 6th May: Glaciers and fjords - excursion to the scenic highlights of Western Norway
  32. Draft programme ready
  33. HRH Crown Prince Haakon will open the IPY-OSC 2010
  34. HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco will attend the conference
  35. 9th June Keynote: Katherine Richardson
  36. 10th June Keynote: Ole Henrik Magga
  37. Tinker Foundation travel grants for Latin American participants
  38. 11th June Keynote: David Barber
  39. 12th June Keynote: Alexander Frolov
  40. 2200 have registered so far
  41. Make sure your media contacts are invited
  42. PolarEXCHANGE with Sue Nelson
  43. Patrick Webber awarded with the first IASC Medal
  44. Arctic sea ice cover heading towards another record low?
  45. Teachers and young scientists join forces in Oslo
  46. Making marfu and melting ice
  47. Preparing for tomorrows polar science
  48. Launch of the Polar Information Commons (PIC) Tuesday afternoon
  49. Cruising the Oslo Fjord for polar history
  50. Warm opening of a cool conference
  51. A territory of dialogue
  52. From policy to action
  53. Signing agreement for cooperation
  54. Rising sea levels on the agenda
  55. Prestigious prize for work in Antarctica
  56. Polar expedition to the FRAM Museum
  57. More cold and snowy winters to come
  58. Arctic and Antarctic partners sign agreement on polar education
  59. Medal for science and inspiring mentorship
  60. Science should incorporate indigenous knowledge
  61. A road movie on ice
  62. Data on ice loss in the Arctic Ocean can be misleading
  63. On the making of polar documentaries
  64. Encounters on Polar Street
  65. Morning plenary: Vladimir Kattsov
  66. International Polar Year officially closed
  67. Survey shows Norwegians believe in science
  68. 1st Circular out for IPY 2012 MONTRÉAL
  69. 2nd Circular out for IPY 2012 in Montreal
  70. Reminder: Call for abstracts
  71. One week left till Abstract Deadline
  72. Updating the IPY Publications Database for the IPY 2012 Conference in Montreal
  73. Time to register for the IPY 2012 conference

Arctic sea ice cover heading towards another record low?

seaice-ing (Ingressbilde)

The September 2007 sea ice minimum was probably the lowest extent of sea ice aerial extent in the Arctic in 50 years, definitely since satellite observations began in 1979. Last week the sea ice cover fell below the recorded extent at the same time in 2007.

Over the two upcoming weeks, shrinking sea ice will thus be one of the hottest science topics. The IPY Oslo Science Conference, scheduled for next week (8-12 June), will be the largest polar science gathering ever with more than 2000 participants. The conference will publish early results from the International Polar Year 2007-2008 (IPY), with particular emphasis on new knowledge about the linkages between climate change in the Polar Regions and global climate systems. This week (31 May - 4 June) a smaller international symposium on sea ice is schedule to meet in Tromsoe.

Photo: NSIDC
- What I find interesting about this year is that the Sea Ice extent in 2010 almost reached the end of March winter maximum but then dropped much more rapidly than previous years until it is now below the 2007 sea ice extent, says David Barber. - This increase, close to the maximum extent, and then rapid decrease is most likely due to the fact that the thickness of the ice continued to decline (2007-2010) even though the maximum extent almost reached winter norms. 

Leading one of the world's largest International Polar Year (IPY) projects, Dr. David Barber has had a team of 200 international researchers examining how global warming in the Arctic predicts the effects of climate change on our planet. In November last year he returned from an expedition which largely failed to find multiyear ice in the Beaufort Sea off the Canadian coast. His ice breaker found hundreds of miles of what he called "rotten ice" - 50-cm thin layers of fresh ice covering small chunks of older ice.

- Our experience with this type of ice shows that by the end of summer, satellites may tell us that we have significant ice extent but it is so heavily decayed that it presents no barrier to ice navigation, at least in the Southern Beaufort Sea. The feedbacks that operate through the annual cycle are very strong and they continue to decrease the percent cover of multiyear sea ice to a point where the loss of all the thick multiyear sea ice could be imminent, says Dr. Barber

The maximum ice cover was reached almost a month later than normal this year. The melt season started on 31 March. The prior freeze season followed the curve recorded in the 2006-2007 season up until last part of February.

- Cold weather in March caused a late-season spurt in ice growth, confirms director of  the National Snow and ice Data Center, Mark Serrreze. - This late season growth, however, consisted of thin ice, which was widely expected to quickly melt out with the onset of spring.  While this is exactly what happened, the spring retreat has been especially rapid; as of May 25, extent had fallen to second lowest on record, just above what was observed in 2006.

Dr. Serreze says satellite data from NASA point to a weak and thin ice pack, with numerous openings (polynyas) in coastal seas. Based on the University of Colorado, Boulder, he studies Arctic climate, and the causes and global implications of climate change in the Arctic. Dr Serreze is well known for his research on the declining sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean.

David Barber, director of the Centre for Earth Observation Science (CEOS) at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, wants to emphasise that the aerial extent of sea ice is only one of two major characteristics of sea ice and how it responds to global temperature, moisture and momentum; the second is sea ice thickness.  The aerial extent, as measured by passive microwave radiometers, provides a consistent dataset which allows scientists to measure the extent of sea ice as a function of date and location in the Arctic. - Unfortunately we do not yet have a reliable way to measure ice thickness (although we are working on it with satellites like Cryosat-2), says Dr. Barber. 

- The Pacific sector of the Arctic has lost a lot of summer ice over the last 30 years due to the circulation of the Beaufort Sea Gyre, the Transpolar Drift stream and a strong feedback to ice melt from the ocean surface mixed layer due to increase open water extent in the summer. 

In September 2007, the last recorded minimum, the Arctic sea ice extent was only 4.13 million square kilometres. Much of the discussion covers the period since 1979, when consistent and reliable satellite observations began. However, considerable data exist for earlier years. One good source has been compiled by the United Kingdom's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research. Their analysis, based primarily on ship reports and aircraft reconnaissance, takes the record back to the turn of the 20th century.

Although the data quality prior to the early 1950s is debatable, no year in this century-long record comes close to matching what was observed and recorded in 2007. This record also points to a significant persistent downward trend in summer sea ice extent over at least the past fifty years. September 2007 sea ice extent was nearly 50% lower than during the 1950s and 1960s.

Last updated: 30.05.2010