What Happens to Sea Ice, After First Arctic Blue Ocean Event?


After First Arctic BOE (Loss of All September Sea Ice) then What Happens Next to the Sea Ice? 1 of 2 // Jun 9, 2020

Many years ago I discussed my thoughts on how Arctic sea ice loss would play out.

  • After the first Blue Ocean Event (BOE: less than 1 million square kilometres of ice left) with open water in September, I argued that within a few years of that BOE open water would occur for Aug, Sept, and Oct;
  • within a few more years July and Nov would then become ice free, and
  • within a decade the entire Arctic Ocean would be ice free.

What does the literature from the last few years say? I delve into an important paper called “Changing state of Arctic sea ice across all seasons” to attempt to figure out what will actually happen [1].

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Will we reach an Ice Free Arctic Ocean State Year Round or will some ice persist year round? 2 of 2 // Jun 9, 2020

In this second part of a two part video series, I continue to delve into an important paper called “Changing state of Arctic sea ice across all seasons” to attempt to determine whether an initial Blue Ocean Event (BOE) will eventually lead to an ice free Arctic Ocean year round, or to an Arctic with no sea ice for about half the year.

The bottom line of this most recent research seems to indicate the latter case, at least for many years. However I still have the view that the cascading effects will lead to the ice free year round state within a decade or so of the initial BOE. No place on Earth is changing more than the Arctic.
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[1] Ref sample:  ‘Introduction

Sea ice plays a critical role in the Earth’s climate by regulating the exchanges of heat, momentum and moisture between the atmosphere and the polar oceans, and by redistributing salt within the ocean. Sea ice primarily exists in the polar regions, and throughout the observational record, at least 16 million km2 or about 5%, of the world’s oceans have been covered by sea ice at any one time. Because of its high reflectivity, sea ice reflects the majority of the sun’s radiation reaching the surface back to space, which efficiently cools the polar regions of our planet.

‘As sea ice melts at its surface, its surface albedo is lowered, which in turn increases the amount of the sun’s energy absorbed by the ice surface and further enhances ice melt. When the ice completely melts, this solar radiation is absorbed by the darker ocean surface, generating a positive feedback that amplifies Arctic air temperatures in autumn and winter as the ocean returns the heat gained in summer back to the atmosphere‘.


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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