National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2020

Using a skillful statistical model to predict September sea ice covering Arctic shipping routes

Li, S., M. Wang, W. Huang, S. Xu, B. Wang, and Y. Bai

Acta Oceanologica Sinica, 39, 11–25, doi: 10.1007/s13131-020-1595-z, View online (2020)

The rapid decrease in Arctic sea ice cover and thickness not only has a linkage with extreme weather in the mid-latitudes but also brings more opportunities for Arctic shipping routes and polar resource exploration, both of which motivate us to further understand causes of sea-ice variations and to obtain more accurate estimates of sea-ice cover in the future. Here, a novel data-driven method, the causal effect networks algorithm, is applied to identify the direct precursors of September sea-ice extent covering the Northern Sea Route and Transpolar Sea Route at different lead times so that statistical models can be constructed for sea-ice prediction. The whole study area was also divided into two parts: the northern region covered by multiyear ice and the southern region covered by seasonal ice. The forecast models of September sea-ice extent in the whole study area (TSIE) and southern region (SSIE) at lead times of 1–4 months can explain over 65% and 79% of the variances, respectively, but the forecast skill of sea-ice extent in the northern region (NSIE) is limited at a lead time of 1 month. At lead times of 1–4 months, local sea-ice concentration and sea-ice thickness have a larger influence on September TSIE and SSIE than other teleconnection factors. When the lead time is more than 4 months, the surface meridional wind anomaly from northern Europe in the preceding autumn or early winter is dominant for September TSIE variations but is comparable to thermodynamic factors for NSIE and SSIE. We suggest that this study provides a complementary approach for predicting regional sea ice and is helpful in evaluating and improving climate models.

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