Sea Ice Outlook: 2009 Summary Reports and Plans for 2010

The Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) Sea Ice Outlook (SIO) is an international effort to provide a community-wide summary of the expected September arctic sea ice minimum at pan-arctic and regional scales. Several activities have been completed or are underway to summarize the 2009 season and prepare for the 2010 Outlook.

The 2009 Sea Ice Outlook Summary Reports, which are available online (www.arcus.org/search/seaiceoutlook/2009_outlook/2009_pan-arctic_summary.php), provide a retrospective review of the 2009 Outlook effort and results. The summary reports, based on statements from nearly 20 contributing groups, include analyses of factors driving the 2009 minimum, additional data or products that would be useful for improving outlooks in the future, and implications for the future state of arctic sea ice.

As an additional follow-up activity to the 2009 season, Outlook organizers held an open meeting at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting to provide an opportunity for the science community to discuss lessons learned from the 2009 Outlook, provide input into planning and improvements for the 2010 Sea Ice Outlook, and participate in the effort as a whole. Participants discussed key events of the 2009 season: 2009 was the third lowest summer extent and fall freeze-up was late, with a near record minimum ice extent record set for November, which continued through January 2010.

Participants also discussed additions and improvements for the 2010 Outlook, including:

  • The 2010 Outlook will add an additional component to the regional outlooks that will evaluate outlook maps in the context of marine mammal management and subsistence, with a focus on walrus. This would further strengthen interagency linkages and collaboration.
  • The 2010 Outlook should help define priority arctic observations that would support improved sea ice outlook predictions.
  • The 2010 Outlook should be extended into the fall, in order to provide a longer seasonal view with information on freeze-up timing and dynamics.

Planning for the 2010 Sea Ice Outlook will continue with a meeting at the March State of the Arctic Conference in Miami, Florida. More information and meeting announcements will be distributed via ArcticInfo and available on the Outlook website (www.arcus.org/search/seaiceoutlook/index.php).

A paper describing the Outlook effort was recently published in Eos (Volume 90, Number 37, 15 September 2009). For more information on the Sea Ice Outlook, contact Helen Wiggins at ARCUS (helen@arcus.org), James Overland at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (james.e.overland@noaa.gov), or Hajo Eicken at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (hajo.eicken@gi.alaska.edu).