Home » Technology News » 2011 » August » August 12, 2011

Arctic ice loss may stop over next decades, before resuming again

August 12, 2011 - Washington

A new study has suggested that melting of Arctic sea ice may temporarily stabilize or the ice may somewhat expand at times over the next few decades.

Scientists at the National Centre for Atmospheric Research found that Arctic ice under current climate conditions is as likely to expand as it is to contract for periods of up to about a decade.

"One of the results that surprised us all was the number of computer simulations that indicated a temporary halt to the loss of the ice," said NCAR scientist Jennifer Kay, the lead author.

"The computer simulations suggest that we could see a 10-year period of stable ice or even a slight increase in the extent of the ice.

"Even though the observed ice loss has accelerated over the last decade, the fate of sea ice over the next decade depends not only on human activity but also on climate variability that cannot be predicted," he stated.

Kay explains that variations in atmospheric conditions such as wind patterns could, for example, temporarily halt the sea ice loss.

"When you start looking at longer-term trends, 50 or 60 years, there's no escaping the loss of ice in the summer," Kay added.

The study appears this week in Geophysical Research Letters.


Comment on this story