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Journal Article

Arctic summer sea ice loss will accelerate in coming decades


Poltronieri,  Anna
External Organizations;


Bochow,  Nils
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Olson Aksamit,  Nikolas
External Organizations;


Boers,  Niklas
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Kristen Jakobsen,  Per
External Organizations;

Rypdal,  Martin
External Organizations;

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Poltronieri, A., Bochow, N., Olson Aksamit, N., Boers, N., Kristen Jakobsen, P., Rypdal, M. (2024): Arctic summer sea ice loss will accelerate in coming decades. - Environmental Research Letters, 19, 7, 074032.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_29984
The Arctic sea ice (ASI) is expected to decrease with further global warming. However, considerable uncertainty remains regarding the temperature range that would lead to a completely ice-free Arctic. Here, we combine satellite data and a large suite of models from the latest phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6) to develop an empirical, observation-based projection of the September ASI area for increasing global mean surface temperature (GMST) values. This projection harnesses two simple linear relationships that are statistically supported by both observations and model data. First, we show that the September ASI area is linearly proportional to the area inside a specific northern hemisphere January–September mean temperature contour Tc. Second, we use observational data to show how zonally averaged temperatures have followed a positive linear trend relative to the GMST, consistent with Arctic amplification. To ensure the reliability of these observations throughout the rest of the century, we validate this trend by employing the CMIP6 ensemble. Combining these two linear relationships, we show that the September ASI area decrease will accelerate with respect to the GMST increase. Our analysis of observations and CMIP6 model data suggests a complete loss of the September ASI (area below 108 km2) for global warming between 1.5 C and 2.2 C above pre-industrial GMST levels.