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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/tc-2016-108
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
10 May 2016
Review status
This discussion paper has been under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC). The revised manuscript was not accepted.
Abrupt transitions in Arctic open water area
Michael A. Goldstein1,2, Amanda H. Lynch3,4, Todd E. Arbetter3, and Florence Fetterer5 1Climate Change Research Center, University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2052 Australia
2Finance Division, Babson College, Babson Park, MA 02457 USA
3Institute at Brown for Environment and Society, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912 USA
4Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912 USA
5National Snow and Ice Data Center, Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309 USA
Abstract. September open water fraction in the Arctic is analyzed using the satellite era record of ice concentration (1979–2014). This analysis suggests that there is a statistically significant breakpoint (shift in the mean) and increase in the variance around 1988 and another breakpoint around 2007 in the Pacific sector. These structural breaks are robust to the choice of algorithm used for deriving sea ice concentration from satellite data, and are also apparent in other measures of open water, such as operational ice charts and the record of navigable days from Barrow to Prudhoe Bay. Breakpoints in the Atlantic sector record of open water are evident in 1988 and 2007 but more weakly significant. The breakpoints appear to be associated with concomitant shifts in average ice age, and tend to lead change in Arctic circulation regimes. These results support the thesis that Arctic sea ice may have critical points beyond which a return to the previous state is less likely.

Citation: Goldstein, M. A., Lynch, A. H., Arbetter, T. E., and Fetterer, F.: Abrupt transitions in Arctic open water area, The Cryosphere Discuss., doi:10.5194/tc-2016-108, 2016.
Michael A. Goldstein et al.
Michael A. Goldstein et al.

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Short summary
Statistical analysis of the long term satellite record of Arctic open water in September reveals breakpoints in 1988 and 2007, particularly in the Pacific sector. These shifts are supported by independent data sets such as operational ice charts. Hence, open water in the Arctic ice appears to be associated with abrupt shifts rather than a gradual upward trend. These results support the thesis that Arctic sea ice may have critical points beyond which a return to the previous state is less likely.
Statistical analysis of the long term satellite record of Arctic open water in September reveals...
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