An ice-free Arctic summer would have pronounced impacts on global climate, coastal habitats, national security, and the shipping industry. Rapid and accelerated Arctic sea ice loss has placed the reality of an ice-free Arctic summer even closer to the present day. Accurate projection of the first Arctic ice-free summer year is extremely important for business planning and climate change mitigation, but the projection can be affected by many factors. Using an inter-calibrated satellite sea ice product, this article examines the sensitivity of decadal trends of Arctic sea ice extent and statistical projections of the first occurrence of an ice-free Arctic summer. The projection based on the linear trend of the last 20 years of data places the first Arctic ice-free summer year at 2036, 12 years earlier compared to that of the trend over the last 30 years. The results from a sensitivity analysis of six commonly used curve-fitting models show that the projected timings of the first Arctic ice-free summer year tend to be earlier for exponential, Gompertz, quadratic, and linear with lag fittings, and later for linear and log fittings. Projections of the first Arctic ice-free summer year by all six statistical models appear to converge to the 2037 ± 6 timeframe, with a spread of 17 years, and the earliest first ice-free Arctic summer year at 2031.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited