Jul 11, 2016

A database for depicting Arctic sea ice variations back to 1850

Walsh, John E., Fetterer, Florence, Scott Stewart, J., Chapman, William L.
Geographical Review
  • Synthesizes Arctic sea ice data from a variety of historical sources into a database extending back to 1850 with monthly time-resolution
  • The synthesis procedure includes interpolation to a uniform grid and an analog-based estimation of ice concentrations in areas of no data
  • The consolidated database shows that there is no precedent as far back as 1850 for the 21st century’s minimum ice extent of sea ice on the pan-Arctic scale (a regional-scale exception to this statement is the Bering Sea)
  • Finds the rate of retreat since the 1990s is also unprecedented and especially large in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas
  • Finds that decadal and multidecadal variations have occurred in some regions, but their magnitudes are smaller than that of the recent ice loss
  • Finds that interannual variability is prominent in all regions and will pose a challenge to sea ice prediction efforts