12 Mar 2021

12 Mar 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Accelerated decline of Svalbard coasts fast ice as a result of climate change

Jacek A. Urbański and Dagmara Litwicka Jacek A. Urbański and Dagmara Litwicka
  • GIScience Laboratory, Institute of Oceanography, University of Gdansk, Gdynia, 81-378, Poland

Abstract. In the Arctic, it is the Svalbard Archipelago that has experienced some of the most severe temperature increases in the last three decades. The temperature rise has accelerated de-icing along the archipelago's coasts, bringing changes to the local environment. As the fast ice distribution along Svalbard coasts before 2000 is mainly unknown, we use in situ observation data of the ice extent for the period of 2005–2018 to create a new geographic random forest model in order to predict daily ice extents using freezing and thawing degree days and time of ice season. This allows one to reconstruct the ice extent in the past and predict it in the near future from standard meteorological data with an accuracy of 0.95. The mean, at least two-month ice extent of fast sea ice along Svalbard coasts was about 12,000 km2 between 1973 and 2000. In 2005–2018, however, the same ice extent declined to 8,000 km2. Comparison of the periods 2005–2018 and 2014–2019 shows the accelerating decline of fast ice: the two-month fast ice extent is now only 6,000 km2. A further increase in mean winter air temperatures by two degrees will result in a two-month fast ice extent of 2,000 km2.

Jacek A. Urbański and Dagmara Litwicka

Status: open (until 07 May 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on tc-2021-21', Anonymous Referee #1, 09 Apr 2021 reply

Jacek A. Urbański and Dagmara Litwicka

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Jacek A. Urbański and Dagmara Litwicka


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Short summary
The primary aim of the presented research was to characterize the spatial distribution of the mean temporal difference in the presence of fast ice between 1975-2000 and 2014-2019 at the archipelago scale and the fjord scale of Svalbard. The second aim was to quantify the changes in the fast ice surface area in different time periods, and in the near future, assuming the forecast increase in temperature.