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TitleReconstructed changes in Arctic sea ice over the past 1,450 years
AuthorKinnard, C; Zdanowicz, C M; Fisher, D A; Isaksson, E; de Vernal, A; Thompson, L G
SourceNature (London) vol. 479, 2011 p. 509-513,
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20110321
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
ProvinceNorthern offshore region
AreaArctic Ocean; Kara- Barents Sea; Greenland Sea; Baffin Bay; Davis Strait; Canadian Arctic; Hudson Bay
Lat/Long WENS-180.0000 180.0000 90.0000 60.0000
Subjectssurficial geology/geomorphology; environmental geology; sea ice; ice; ice conditions; massive ice; climate, arctic
Illustrationslocation maps; graphs; plots
ProgramPaleoenvironmental Perspectives on Climate Change, Climate Change Geoscience
AbstractArctic sea ice extent is nowmore than twomillion square kilometres less than it was in the late twentieth century, with important consequences for the climate, the ocean and traditional lifestyles in the Arctic1,2. Although observations show a more or less continuous decline for the past four or five decades3,4, there are few long-term records withwhich to assess natural sea ice variability. Until now, the question of whether or not current trends are potentially anomalous5 has therefore remained unanswerable. Here we use a network of high-resolution terrestrial proxies from the circum-Arctic region to reconstruct past extents of summer sea ice, and show that - although extensive uncertainties remain, especially before the sixteenth century - both the duration and magnitude of the current decline in sea ice seem to be unprecedented for the past 1,450 years. Enhanced advection of warm Atlantic water to the Arctic6 seems to be the main factor driving the decline of sea ice extent on Multidecadal timescales, and may result from nonlinear feedbacks between sea ice and the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation. These results reinforce the assertion that sea ice is an active component of Arctic climate variability and that the recent decrease in summer Arctic sea ice is consistent with anthropogenically forced warming.