Scientific Colloquium
November 30, 2007

"Decadal Changes in the Arctic and Antarctic Sea Ice Cover"

About 5 to 8 % of the global oceans is covered at any time by sea ice which is a key component of the climate system.  Since the advent of multichannel passive microwave remote sensing, starting with the launch of Nimbus-7/SMMR in October 1978, we have been able to quantify with reasonable accuracy, the distribution, extent and area of the sea ice cover.  Many intriguing events have happened in both hemispheres with the Arctic perennial sea ice cover declining at a rapid rate of 10% per decade while the Antarctic ice cover has been relatively unchanged but showing anomalous ice distributions in some regions.  Unusual features and unexpected changes, including the abnormal decline in the Arctic perennial ice cover in 2007 (38% less than climatological average values) will be presented and associated implications to climate and the ecology of the region will be discussed. 

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