15 Jan

The Arctic Cryosphere in the Twenty-First Century

Preview was written by Roger G. Barry

Q: What is the main purpose of your study?
A: To review the status of the main components of the Arctic cryosphere In the second half of the 20th century and describe their changes up to the present. Projections for 2100 are briefly reported.

Q: How does your study relate to other work on the subject?
A: The retreat of Arctic sea ice has major implications for Arctic shipping and natural resource exploitation as well as native populations. Thawing of permafrost has implications for infrastructure. The work provides a framework for understanding changes in specific cryospheric components.

Q: What are two or three interesting findings that come from your study?
A: Arctic sea ice in summer is retreating and thinning at an accelerating rate in the 21st century. The larger fraction is now first year ice, rather than multiyear ice as in the 1980-90s. Summers are projected to be sea-ice free by the second half of this century. Thaw of the upper few meters of permafrost will be extensive by 2100.

Q: What might be some of the theoretical implications of this study?
A: The Arctic is entering a long term inter-glacial state that may see the cryosphere shrink much more then in the last several inter-glacials. Sea ice retreat is in contrast to slight expansion of Antarctic sea ice.

Q: How does your research help us think about Geography?
A: It emphasizes the role of human activity on the global climate system and the rapid pace of environmental change in high latitudes.

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Click here to read the abstract of this article on the Wiley Online Library.