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Sea Ice in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago: Modeling the Past (1950–2004) and the Future (2041–60)

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  • 1 University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  • | 2 Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
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Abstract

Considering the recent losses observed in Arctic sea ice and the anticipated future warming due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, sea ice retreat in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (CAA) is expected and indeed is already being observed. As most global climate models do not resolve the CAA region, a fine-resolution ice–ocean regional model is developed and used to make a projection of future changes in the CAA sea ice. Results from a historical run (1950–2004) are used to evaluate the model. The model does well in representing observed sea ice spatial and seasonal variability, but tends to underestimate summertime ice cover. The model results for the future (2041–60) show little change in wintertime ice concentrations from the past, but summertime ice concentrations decrease by 45%. The ice thickness is projected to decrease by 17% in the winter and by 36% in summer. Based on this study, a completely ice-free CAA is unlikely by the year 2050, but the simulated ice retreat suggests that the region could support some commercial shipping.

Corresponding author address: Tessa Sou, School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria, P.O. Box 3055 STN CSC, Victoria, BC V8W 3P6, Canada. Email: sout@uvic.ca

Abstract

Considering the recent losses observed in Arctic sea ice and the anticipated future warming due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, sea ice retreat in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (CAA) is expected and indeed is already being observed. As most global climate models do not resolve the CAA region, a fine-resolution ice–ocean regional model is developed and used to make a projection of future changes in the CAA sea ice. Results from a historical run (1950–2004) are used to evaluate the model. The model does well in representing observed sea ice spatial and seasonal variability, but tends to underestimate summertime ice cover. The model results for the future (2041–60) show little change in wintertime ice concentrations from the past, but summertime ice concentrations decrease by 45%. The ice thickness is projected to decrease by 17% in the winter and by 36% in summer. Based on this study, a completely ice-free CAA is unlikely by the year 2050, but the simulated ice retreat suggests that the region could support some commercial shipping.

Corresponding author address: Tessa Sou, School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria, P.O. Box 3055 STN CSC, Victoria, BC V8W 3P6, Canada. Email: sout@uvic.ca

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