GLOBAL CHANGES IN THE SEA ICE COVER AND ASSOCIATED SURFACE TEMPERATURE CHANGES
- Cryosphere Sciences Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
Keywords: Global, sea ice, surface temperature, trends, climate change, remote sensing
Abstract. The trends in the sea ice cover in the two hemispheres have been observed to be asymmetric with the rate of change in the Arctic being negative at −3.8 % per decade while that of the Antarctic is positive at 1.7 % per decade. These observations are confirmed in this study through analyses of a more robust data set that has been enhanced for better consistency and updated for improved statistics. With reports of anthropogenic global warming such phenomenon appears physically counter intuitive but trend studies of surface temperature over the same time period show the occurrence of a similar asymmetry. Satellite surface temperature data show that while global warming is strong and dominant in the Arctic, it is relatively minor in the Antarctic with the trends in sea ice covered areas and surrounding ice free regions observed to be even negative. A strong correlation of ice extent with surface temperature is observed, especially during the growth season, and the observed trends in the sea ice cover are coherent with the trends in surface temperature. The trend of global averages of the ice cover is negative but modest and is consistent and compatible with the positive but modest trend in global surface temperature. A continuation of the trend would mean the disappearance of summer ice by the end of the century but modelling projections indicate that the summer ice could be salvaged if anthropogenic greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are kept constant at the current level.