Increasing winter sea ice loss

New minimum Arctic sea ice extents were measured during both January and February this year. Nansen Legacy scientists Ingrid H. Onarheim, Tor Eldevik and Lars Henrik Smedsrud from the University of Bergen and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, as well as Nansen Legacy advisory board member, Julienne C. Stroeve, are co-authors of a newly published research article in Journal of Climate investigating Arctic sea ice loss, and how the extent has changed in time over the seasons and the regional seas. The work shows how sea ice loss increasingly happens during winter due to reduced ice production.

Arctic Sea ice extent for 2018 (orange), 2015 (yellow) and the 1981-2010 median (grey). Source: NSIDC

The work emphasizes how the Barents Sea is in the centre of action – summer sea ice is now essentially gone and the sea dominates present variability in Arctic sea ice loss observed during winter. The authors explain the high loss rate of sea ice in the Barents Sea with the increasing atlantification of the Barents Sea, e.g. the inflow of warm Atlantic water.

Monthly trends in sea ice extent for the Northern Hemisphere’s regional seas, 1979–2016. Source: Onarheim et al. 2018

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