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AFSC Seminar Series No. 3

Scheduled Seminars

Subject: Interdecadal Variations in Arctic Climate and Sea Ice

Speaker: Ignatius G. Rigor, Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington
When: Wednesday, February 15, 2006, 12 PM
Where: Bldg. 4; Room 1055 "Observer Training Room," Sand Point Campus, Seattle

Dear Colleagues: We're pleased to offer the third installment of this year's AFSC Seminar Series, which describes the seasonal dynamics of Arctic sea ice and the outlook for sea ice extent as climate changes continue.  Ignatius Rigor of the Polar Science Center, University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory, will present the results of a series of papers that describe interdecadal variations in Arctic climate and sea ice and the prospects for future change.


Interdecadal Variations in Arctic Climate and Sea Ice

Ignatius G. Rigor
Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Laboratory
University of Washington
1013 NE 40th Street
Seattle, WA 98105


The extent of Arctic sea ice during summer has declined to record minima during the past decade. Five of the lowest minima in the last 100 years were observed during this period, and a new record minimum was set in September 2005. These changes have a profound impact on many other aspects of Arctic and global climate, ecology, and society. For example, many plant and animal species have been migrating further north, and the lack of sea ice during summer makes the Arctic Ocean, or more pertinently, the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas north of Alaska, more accessible for navigation. Can we predict these minima? These minima may be attributed to global warminig (e.g. the Arctic Climate Impacts Assessment Report 2004), but this decline may also be attributed to a change in the wind driven circulation of Arctic sea ice. In a series of papers, we showed that the extent of prior winter Arctic Oscillation (AO) conditions explained most of the trends in summer sea ice extent in the Eurasian sector of the Arctic Ocean, while in the Alaskan sector the recent extreme minima may be due to the drift of younger, thinner ice towards the Alaskan coast during the recent predominance of high to moderate AO conditions. In this presentation, we plan to show some of the observed changes in Arctic climate, and relate these changes to the North Atlantic / Arctic Oscillation. We will also show how these relationships (correlations) may help us explain our long-term (1900- present) SAT and sea ice extent records. And finally we will show how these relationships may be used to improve our operational capability to predict Arctic sea ice conditions on weekly to seasonal time scales.

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