Arctic Sea Ice Trajectories from Observations and Models

Arctic Sea Ice Loss Projections From the Latest-and-Greatest Climate Simulation Models (CMIP6) // Jun 3, 2020

The latest, most sophisticated climate models of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6) have been used to track Arctic Sea Ice Area and Volume over time and make future projections.

  • The vast majority of models predict a practically ice free Arctic in summer (less than 1 million km**2) before 2050.
  • September sea ice area decreases at a rate of 2.73 m**2 per ton of CO2 emissions,
  • and by 4 million km**2 per degree Celsius of average global warming.

Future cumulative CO2 emissions of between 500 to 1,100 Gt should finish the ice; with our present level of 40 Gt per year this is between 12.5 and 27.5 years.
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Cutting My Own Hair:  Before.
Notice, I am wearing a GARBAGE bag.

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Our Trajectory Towards a Seasonally Ice-Free Arctic Ocean: Part 1 of 3 // Jun 3, 2020

When will Arctic sea-ice vanish? In this 1st of 3 videos of findings from a review paper, I delve into details. Importantly, sea ice coverage loss (area and extent) have a deterministic component arising primarily from future greenhouse gas emissions.

  • There is roughly 3 square meters of September ice loss per ton of CO2 emissions;
  • or a loss of 4 million square km per degree C rise in global temperature;
  • or a cumulative emission amount of 800 Gt (20 years).
  • There is also an internal variability (chaotic) component of 1 million square km (or 300 Gt or 7.5 years).

Thus, no summer sea ice within 12.5 to 27.5 years. I expect sooner myself.

Ref:  The Trajectory Towards a Seasonally Ice-Free Arctic Ocean, Dirk Notz1 · Julienne Stroeve, Published online: 26 September 2018

‘Purpose of Review The observed substantial loss of Arctic sea ice has raised prospects of a seasonally ice-free Arctic Ocean within the foreseeable future. In this review, we summarize our current understanding of the most likely trajectory of the Arctic sea-ice cover towards this state.

Recent Findings
‘The future trajectory of the Arctic sea-ice cover can be described through a deterministic component arising primarily from future greenhouse gas emissions, and a chaotic component arising from internal variability. The deterministic component is expected to cause a largely ice-free Arctic Ocean during summer for less than 2 ◦C global warming relative to pre-industrial levels. To keep chances below 5 % that the Arctic Ocean will largely be ice free in a given year, total future CO2 emissions must remain below 500 Gt.

‘The Arctic Ocean will become ice free during summer before mid-century unless greenhouse gas emissions are rapidly reduced’.
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About paulbeckwith

Well known climate science educator; Part-time Geography professor (climatology, oceanography, environmental issues), University of Ottawa. Physicist. Engineer. Master's Degree in Science in Laser Optics, Bachelors of Engineering, in Engineering Physics. Won Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario gold medal. Also interested in investment and start-ups in climate solutions, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Avid chess player, and likes restoring old homes. Married with children.
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2 Responses to Arctic Sea Ice Trajectories from Observations and Models

  1. Ronald says:

    And meanwhile in the Great barrier Reef;
    Australia’s Great Barrier Reef suffers most extensive coral bleaching:

    Si, this bleaching is worse than in 2016.
    Somewhere else Reuters mentions that temperatures in Feb/March were 2 – 3 C warmer than ‘normal’.


  2. Ronald says:

    And talking about tipping points;
    Tropical forests can handle the heat, up to a point:

    Long-term thermal sensitivity of Earth’s tropical forests:

    The title of the SD article is much more positive than the content: the study actually shows that tropical rainforests have ‘a heat threshold of 32 degrees Celsius in daytime temperature’, and even more ominously: ‘if we limit global average temperatures to a 2 C increase above pre-industrial levels this pushes nearly three-quarters of tropical forests above the heat threshold we identified’.

    So, even a 2 C increase above pre-industrial (which is almost reached) will jeopardize 3/4 of tropical forests.


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