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Arctic sea-ice melt in 2008 and the role of solar heating

  • Donald K. Perovich (a1), Jacqueline A. Richter-Menge (a1), Kathleen F. Jones (a1), Bonnie Light (a2), Bruce C. Elder (a1), Christopher Polashenski (a3), Daniel Laroche (a1), Thorsten Markus (a4) and Ronald Lindsay (a2)...


There has been a marked decline in the summer extent of Arctic sea ice over the past few decades. Data from autonomous ice mass-balance buoys can enhance our understanding of this decline. These buoys monitor changes in snow deposition and ablation, ice growth, and ice surface and bottom melt. Results from the summer of 2008 showed considerable large-scale spatial variability in the amount of surface and bottom melt. Small amounts of melting were observed north of Greenland, while melting in the southern Beaufort Sea was quite large. Comparison of net solar heat input to the ice and heat required for surface ablation showed only modest correlation. However, there was a strong correlation between solar heat input to the ocean and bottom melting. As the ice concentration in the Beaufort Sea region decreased, there was an increase in solar heat to the ocean and an increase in bottom melting.

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