Pan-Arctic Climate and Ecosystem Response to Historical and Projected Changes in the Seasonality of Sea Ice Melt and Growth
Basic Project Information
The primary goal of this work is to explore the causes and effects of ongoing seasonal changes in the annual cycle of sea ice. This includes a quantitative assessment of the drivers and effects of the seasonal timing of sea ice melt onset, freezing initiation, and snowfall within the observational record and coupled climate model simulations of historical and future climate. We are examining this from both energy budget and ecosystem perspectives and are explicitly considering feedbacks to the Arctic and global systems. In particular, we are investigating the interactions between seasonal changes in the surface marine state and shortwave radiation and assessing the implications of those interactions for changes in climate and marine ecosystem behavior. In turn, we plan to assess and ultimately improve the capabilities of GCMs by improving the physics associated with the parameterization of solar radiation incident on ice covered seas. Within this primary goal, three focused questions will be used to direct the specific course of research.
How do variations in the timing of seasonal triggers, including melt onset, melt pond evolution, freeze-up initiation, and snow accumulation affect the timing and partitioning of solar energy over the historical record?
How do relationships among seasonal triggers and solar energy partitioning evolve in a warming climate with a transition to seasonal ice cover? What are the consequent implications for sea ice mass budgets, amplified Arctic warming, and marine ecosystem behavior?
How well do climate models simulate the relationships between seasonal triggers and the partitioning of solar radiation? What processes are missing or inadequately represented in terms of these relationships?
Education and Outreach
Results from research on this project were incorporated in lectures given by Bonnie Light for ESS 431 Principles of Glaciology, Fall Semester 2009-2010.
Bonnie Light developed and presented an exhibit for Polar Science Weekend 2010 at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. It featured hands-on demonstrations of the spectral reflectance properties of a variety of natural materials, including sea ice. During the course of the activity, guests were invited to create their own "Designer Arctic” with its own unique reflective properties, and have its reflectivity tested. Hands-on demonstrations were used to illustrate the mechanism of the ice-albedo feedback and its role in climate. This annual four-day event has typically drawn 7,000-10,000 individuals to view exhibits, lectures, and demonstrations on polar science.
As a result of its success at Polar Science Weekend, this activity was selected by museum staff to become a permanent exhibit on the Pacific Science Center floor. Bonnie Light worked with museum staff throughout 2010 to harden the design and evaluate prototypes. The exhibit now stands for museum visitors to enjoy at their leisure and learn about the ice- albedo feedback.
During summer, 2010, Marika Holland mentored an undergraduate SOARS (Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science) protege (Daniel Pollak) on a project entitled: "Understanding Changes in the Arctic Basin Sea Ice Mass Budget as simulated by CCSM4: Implications from melt season characteristics and the surface albedo feedback".
Perovich, D.K., "A frozen ocean in a warming climate", Science on Tap: Montshire Museum, 2011.
Perovich, D.K., Lecture to high school on sea ice and climate change, 2011.
Perovich, D.K., Lecture to adult education group on sea ice and climate change, 2011.
Perovich, D.K., Participated in USA Science and Engineering Festival, 2010.