New climate report details trends in Arctic Sea ice
The State of the Climate 2021 report for the Arctic was recently released by the American Meteorological Society and was authored by Richard Thoman from International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska.
In this blog, I will cover the latest information on the state of the Arctic Sea ice and the long-term trends.
Before I get to the ice, the Arctic region (60 to 90 degrees north) experienced its coolest year since 2013, but that is not saying much, as 2021 was still the 13th warmest year on record going back to 1900.
The graph below shows the annual seasonal air temperature anomalies from 1900-2021 vs. the 1991-2020 average for the Arctic region (red line).
Image courtesy of the Met Office.
As you can see, the Arctic region has been clearly warming at a faster rate compared to the rest of the world since the 1980s.
In terms of Arctic Sea ice extent, the region normally reaches its annual maximum extent during the month of March and its minimum during September.
The graph below shows the annual sea ice extent maximum (black solid line) and minimums (red solid line) going back to 1979 with trend lines indicated by the dashed lines. These anomalies are measured against the 1981-2010 average.
Image courtesy of the AMS.
While the annual maximum extent has been trending slightly lower over the past 40 or so years, the annual minimum extent has shown a much more steep decline, especially over the past 20 years.
Other critical measures of the health and stability of sea ice are the age and thickness of the sea ice.
In the Arctic, there has been a significant decline in thicker, multi-year ice, which is able to survive through the summer months compared to the thinner, single-year ice, which will completely melt out during the summer.
Image courtesy of the AMS
Over the past 10 years, thick sea ice that is older than for years has made up just a small percentage of the total amount of sea ice in the Arctic.
The graphic below is striking. It shows the estimated sea ice extent and age by different colors during the late summer of 1985 and 2021.
Image courtesy of the NSIDC.
The yellows and reds show the thicker, multi-year ice, while the blues shows the thinner, 0-2 year ice. Quite a change!
For more detailed information, here is the link to the State of the Climate in 2021....the Arctic.Report a Typo