Arctic sea ice extent has been well below normal since 2007. Climate models suggest that this trend signifies a transition towards an Arctic Ocean with greatly diminished or absent summer ice cover by mid-century or earlier. Significant reduction in summer sea ice will have substantial repercussions, including extended open-water seasons fostering offshore resource development and increased maritime activity, changes in the behavior and health of marine mammals, and impacts on arctic and sub-arctic weather patterns. Predictions of sea ice changes will have large uncertainties without sustained observations; improved understanding of ice, ocean, land, and atmospheric processes; and advances in coupled and system models.
The full science goals and objectives for the "Sea Ice" theme can be found here.
Most activities are coordinated by an Action Team led by Jennifer Francis (Woods Hole Research Center) and Henry Huntington (Huntington Consulting). The Action Team is focusing on achieving the science goals through communication, networking, and collaboration between the scientific community, decision-makers and the media.
The SEARCH Sea Ice Action Team guides the direction and activities of the Sea Ice Action Network, which communicates efforts to collaboratively understand the implications of diminishing arctic sea ice.
In addition to Sea Ice Action Team activities, two other projects contribute to the SEARCH sea ice goal: