New model helps predict regional and seasonal sea ice extent

Morgan Kelly ・ High Meadows Environmental Institute

Scientists including PEI’s Gabriel Vecchi have developed a new method to forecast the extent of sea ice in some regions of the Arctic up to 11 months in advance. The method, which incorporates information about ocean temperatures and focuses on regions rather than the entire Arctic Sea, could help in the planning of activities ranging from shipping to oil and gas extraction, fishing and tourism.

New model helps predict regional and seasonal sea ice extent

Scientists including PEI’s Gabriel Vecchi have developed a new method to forecast the extent of sea ice in some regions of the Arctic up to 11 months in advance. The method, which incorporates information about ocean temperatures and focuses on regions rather than the entire Arctic Sea, could help in the planning of activities ranging from shipping to oil and gas extraction, fishing and tourism.

The model improves on previous methods capable of predicting the ice over the entire Arctic Sea up to six months in advance. The new approach, detailed in a study published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, was developed by an international team including researchers from Princeton University, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and the French National Center for Scientific Research.

Most efforts to predict sea ice extent have focused on determining the total area of sea ice coverage over the northern hemisphere. But stakeholders are primarily interested in predictions on regional and seasonal scales, according to Mitchell Bushuk, who led the research while a postdoctoral research associate in Princeton University’s Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. Companies involved in shipping, tourism and resource management, as well as local communities in the Arctic, are affected by the location and thickness of sea ice and rely on accurate reporting and forecasting of sea ice conditions.