Accession Number : ADP007262

Title :   Strengths and Weaknesses of Sea Ice as a Potential Early Indicator of Climate Change,

Corporate Author : NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION GREENBELT MD GODDARD SPACE FLIG HT CENTER

Personal Author(s) : Parkinson, Claire L.

Report Date : MAR 1992

Pagination or Media Count : 5

Abstract : Sea ice is examined for its potential as an early indicator of climate change by considering how well it satisfies four criteria listed as desired characteristics for potential early indicators. Results of numerical modeling studies in the 1970s and 1980s suggested that sea ice satisfies the first characteristic, that the variable be expected to exhibit a large climate signal, very well; but these results have recently been updated in a way that decreases the success of sea ice in satisfying this particular property. Sea ice satisfies the second characteristic, that it be routinely measurable on a global basis, exceptionally well through satellite passive-microwave observations, and at the moment this is the core of its strength as a potential early indicator. However, the absence of a solid pre-satellite database considerably hinders how well sea ice satisfies the third characteristic, that it have low enough and known natural variability to allow a climate signal to be distinguished from the background noise, and how well it can be known to satisfy the final characteristic, that changes in it should not significantly lag changes in other climate variables. The conclusion reached is that although changes in the sea ice cover, when analyzed in conjunction with changes in other variables, will provide important information on climate change, sea ice is unlikely any time in the near future to be a definitive early indicator of climate change when considered by itself.

Descriptors :   *ICE MECHANICS, *INDICATORS, *SEA ICE, *SATELLITE METEOROLOGY, CLIMATE, GLOBAL, MICROWAVES, OCEANS, SIGNALS, TIME, GREENHOUSE EFFECT, ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT.

Subject Categories : Meteorology
      Snow, Ice and Permafrost
      Cartography and Aerial Photography

Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE