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  • Stern, H., R. Lindsay, C.M. Bitz, and P. Hezel, What is the trajectory of Arctic sea ice?. AGU momograph, 2008. In press.

We consider the trajectory in phase space of the Arctic sea ice thickness distribution, in which each dimension or component is the time series of sea ice area for a given ice thickness bin. We analyze the trajectory as determined by output from an ice-ocean model, finding that the first two principal components account for 98% of the variance. Simplifying the ice thickness distribution into thin ice, thick ice, and open water, we construct a simple empirical linear model that converges to a stable annual cycle from any initial state. When we include a quadratic non-linearity to simulate a crude ice-albedo feedback, the model exhibits two stable states, one with perennial ice and one with ice-free summers, resembling the projections of some climate models for the late 21st century. We discuss the interplay between external forcing, internal dynamics, and "tipping points" in the decline of Arctic sea ice


Last Updated: 2008-08-21

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