Science & Technology

CryoSat Satellite Shows Increased Volume of Arctic Sea Ice

Yearly the Arctic Ocean experiences the formation after which melting of huge quantities of ice that floats on the ocean floor. This sea ice performs a central position in polar local weather and the worldwide ocean circulation sample.

New measurements from ESA’s CryoSat Satellite present that the amount of Arctic sea ice elevated following the unusually cool summer time of 2013, suggesting that ice within the northern hemisphere is extra delicate to adjustments in summer time melting than it’s to winter cooling.

Scientists at College Faculty London (UCL) and the College of Leeds within the UK used 88 million sea-ice thickness measurements taken by CryoSat between 2010 and 2014.

The research, published today in Nature Geoscience, exhibits a 14% discount within the quantity of summer time sea ice between 2010 and 2012, however the quantity of ice jumped by 41% in 2013, when the summer time was 5% cooler than the earlier yr.

Lead creator Rachel Tilling, from the Middle for Polar Remark and Modelling (CPOM) at UCL, mentioned, “The summer time of 2013 was a lot cooler than current years, with temperatures typical of these seen within the late Nineteen Nineties.

“This allowed thick sea ice to persist northwest of Greenland as a result of there have been fewer days when it may soften. Though fashions have prompt that the amount of Arctic sea ice is in long-term decline, we all know now that it could possibly get well by a major quantity if the melting season is reduce brief.”

Autumn Arctic sea-ice thickness as measured by CryoSat between 2010 and 2014.

Launched in 2010, CryoSat measures the peak of ice – each of that floating within the polar oceans and of the huge ice sheets protecting Greenland and Antarctica. This info is important for figuring out the thickness of the ice and the way it’s altering and, in the end, how the amount of Earth’s ice is being affected by the local weather.

The amount of Arctic ice has been steadily falling because the late Seventies, however was troublesome to evaluate precisely earlier than CryoSat.

Rachel added, “Till CryoSat was launched, it was difficult to measure the amount of Arctic sea ice because the pack drifts and measurements couldn’t be taken throughout the entire area.

“Along with maps of sea-ice extent, our measurements of sea-ice thickness now full the image as a result of they reveal what’s occurring under the water, the place most of the motion occurs.”

The group say though the primary 5 years of CryoSat measurements have revealed vital info on the state of Arctic sea ice, the report remains to be brief to determine a long-term development.

Professor Andrew Shepherd, Director of CPOM, mentioned, “Understanding what controls the quantity of Arctic sea ice takes us one step nearer to creating dependable predictions of how lengthy it can final, which is vital as a result of it’s a key part of Earth’s local weather system.

“Though the bounce in quantity signifies that the area is unlikely to be ice free this summer time, we nonetheless anticipate temperatures to rise sooner or later, and so the occasions of 2013 may have merely wound the clock again a number of years on the long-term sample of decline.

“Our purpose is to ensure we don’t lose this distinctive functionality to watch Arctic sea ice when the mission ends.”

The group now plans to make use of CryoSat’s measurements of altering sea-ice thickness to assist enhance the fashions which are used to foretell future local weather change, and in addition to help maritime actions within the Arctic area, which may be harmful and expensive to navigate.

Tommaso Parrinello, ESA’s CryoSat Supervisor, mentioned, “CryoSat has been in orbit for over 5 years now and nonetheless continues to exhibit excellence by delivering the exact information that scientists have to advance polar science – we stay very proud of our satellite tv for pc.”

Publication: Rachel L. Tilling, et al., “Increased Arctic sea ice quantity after anomalously low melting in 2013,” Nature Geoscience, 2015; doi:10.1038/ngeo2489

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