humans have an increasingly large role in theecosystem, for example by causing oil spills or through greenhouse gas emissions. Treating theArctic as a vital component of the global systemcould help scientists better understand its contribu-tion to the climate system and help advance under-standing of sea ice and its predictability.
Updating sea ice prediction models to reect
changing characteristics of sea ice.
Recent reduc-tions in the extent of summer sea ice have alsocaused shifts in the composition of the ice.Dominated by thick, multi-year ice just a decade
ago, thinner rst year now makes up an increasingly
large part of the ice cover (see Figure 3). First-year sea ice is more susceptible for summer melt, and ismore easily ridged, ruptured, and moved by winds,which has important implications for predictingfuture sea ice cover. Many current sea ice modelsuse formulations and parameters based on datacollected during the multi-year sea ice regime, and
may not accurately reect recent changes in sea ice
3. Meeting the needs of a wide range of stakehold-ers.
Clearly dening the broad and evolving needs
of stakeholders would help inform future directionsfor sea ice modeling and observations in support of sea ice prediction.
Challenges in Advancing PredictiveCapabilities
Although steady progress has been made inunde
standing Arctic sea ice, many climate modelsstill simulate an Arctic ice pack that is at odds withobservations (see Figure 2). Arctic sea ice predictionhas some inherent limitations caused by the chaoticnature of the climate system. Those limitations are poorly understood, especially across the full range of timescale and variables of interest to stakeholders. Tomove toward greater predictability, the followingchallenges need to be addressed:
1. A better understanding of the relative accuracies,strengths, and weaknesses of the differentapproaches used to forecast seasonal ice.
Currently, the three approaches for seasonal fore-casts are: (1) statistical models; (2) coupled ice-oceanmodels; and more recently, (3) coupled atmosphere-ocean-ice models.
2. Knowing the degree of precision required incharacterizing initial ice-ocean conditions (e.g.,sea ice conditions and upper ocean conditions atthe start of the season) in order to generateaccurate seasonal predictions
. Few experimentshave been performed to investigate exactly how tooptimize sea ice observations. For example, there’slittle information on what observational quality,address this question, the report explores major chal-
lenges in sea ice prediction and identies methods,
observations, and technologies that might advancecapabilities to predict the extent of sea ice over seasonalto decadal timescales.
Gaps in Our Understanding
Understanding and projecting future sea ice condi-tions is important to a growing number of stakeholders,including local populations, natural resource industries,
shing communities, commercial shippers, marine
tourism operators, national security organizations,
regulatory agencies, and the scientic research commu
nity. The report identied three overarching challenges
that need to be addressed:
1. Understanding the interactions among thevarious parts of the Arctic system
. Sea ice is justone part of the larger Arctic system, which includescomponents such as ocean currents, atmosphericconditions, land cover, and the Arctic food web.Changes in any one of these components can
inuence other parts of the system, but interactions
between the various parts of the system are not fullyunderstood. Adding to the complexity is the fact that
Figure 2. Many climate models still simulate an Arctic icepack that differs from recent observations.
This gure shows
simulations of September sea ice extent from 1900 to 2100 by 23global climate models. Each thin colored line represents anaverage set of runs from one model. The thicker solid red linedepicts observed ice extent, which, in recent years, is lower thanthe average of all the model runs, shown as the thick blue line.This discrepancy, along with the wide spread among model runs,indicate that models have not yet caught up to reality, for example, by incoporating recent rapid changes in the compositionof sea ice. Source: Wang and Overland, 2012. Reproduced/
modied by permission of American Geophysical Union