For more than three decades now, satellite passive microwave observations have been used to monitor polar sea ice. Here we utilize sea ice extent trends determined from satellite data for both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres for the period 1972(73)-2004, and assess and interpret them using results from simulations by eleven climate models. In the Northern Hemisphere (NH), observations show a statistically significant decrease of sea ice extent and an acceleration of sea ice retreat during the past three decades. However, from the modeled natural variability of sea ice extents in control simulations, we conclude that the acceleration is not statistically significant and should not be extrapolated into the future. Most of the models, like the observations, show an absence of a prominent seasonal cycle in the trend values. Both observations and model simulations show that climate variability in sea ice extent in the Southern Hemisphere (SH) is much larger than in the NH and that the SH sea ice extent trends are not statistically significant.
Geophysical Research Letters
- Pub Date:
- March 2006
- Global Change: Climate variability (1635;
- Global Change: Cryospheric change (0776);
- Global Change: Global climate models (3337;
- Hydrology: Snow and ice (0736;