Talk by Peter Ditlevsen – Niels Bohr Institute - University of Copenhagen

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Talk by Peter Ditlevsen

An analysis of the Arctic sea ice area: Can something simple be said?

The variation in the Arctic sea ice is dominated by the seasonal cycle with little inter-annual correlation. Though the mean sea ice area has decreased steadily in the period of satellite observations,  a dramatic transition in the dynamics was initiated with the record low September ice area in 2007. The change is much more pronounced in the amplitude of the seasonal cycle than in the annual mean ice area. The shape of the seasonal cycle is surprisingly constant for the whole observational record despite the general decline. A simple explanation, independent of the increased greenhouse warming, for the shape of the seasonal cycle is offered. Thus the dramatic climate change in arctic ice area is seen in the amplitude of the cycle and to a lesser extend the annual mean and the September ice extend. The reason why the climate change is most pronounced in the amplitude is related to the rapid reduction in perennial ice and thus a thinning of the ice. The analysis shows that  a tipping point for the arctic ice area was crossed in 2007.