Sea Ice and Sunlight: Climate Change and the Arctic Sea Ice Cover

Donald Perovich, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory

Friday, February 12, 2010, 3:30pm

Spanos Auditorium

This seminar is part of the Jones Seminars on Science, Technology, and Society series

Sea ice covers much of the Arctic Ocean. Climate models indicate that this extensive, but thin, floating ice cover is both a harbinger and an amplifier of global climate change. Observations demonstrate that the Arctic sea ice cover is in decline. The areal extent of the ice cover has been decreasing for the past few decades and the ice has been thinning. The reduction in Arctic sea ice is a consequence of such factors as overall warming trends, changes in cloud cover, shifts in atmospheric circulation patterns, increased export of ice out of the Arctic Basin, and enhanced solar heating of the ocean. These changes are likely accelerated by the ice-albedo feedback. The diminishing Arctic sea ice has implications not only for the Arctic, but also for the global climate system, creating social, political, economic, and ecological challenges.

About the Speaker

Dr. Don Perovich received a Ph.D. in Geophysics from the University of Washington. He is a Senior Research Geophysicist at the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, New Hampshire and an Adjunct Professor at Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth College. His primary research interest is understanding the role of sea ice in the global climate system, with an emphasis on the heat budget of sea ice and the ice albedo feedback. He has participated in numerous Arctic field experiments including serving as the Chief Scientist of SHEBA, a large international program studying the Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean and participating in a 2005 trans-Arctic icebreaker expedition to the North Pole. He is the author of over 120 scientific articles on sea ice properties and processes.