Global Warming and Northern Hemisphere Sea Ice Extent

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Science  03 Dec 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5446, pp. 1934-1937
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5446.1934

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Surface and satellite-based observations show a decrease in Northern Hemisphere sea ice extent during the past 46 years. A comparison of these trends to control and transient integrations (forced by observed greenhouse gases and tropospheric sulfate aerosols) from the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and Hadley Centre climate models reveals that the observed decrease in Northern Hemisphere sea ice extent agrees with the transient simulations, and both trends are much larger than would be expected from natural climate variations. From long-term control runs of climate models, it was found that the probability of the observed trends resulting from natural climate variability, assuming that the models' natural variability is similar to that found in nature, is less than 2 percent for the 1978–98 sea ice trends and less than 0.1 percent for the 1953–98 sea ice trends. Both models used here project continued decreases in sea ice thickness and extent throughout the next century.

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