IPY Operational Oceanography for the Arctic Ocean and adjacent seas

Project Description
The Arctic climate of the 20th century has undergone major fluctuations, which are characterized by a significant warming in the last two decades. The warming predicted for the high Arctic is 3–4 °C in winter during the next 50 years, more than twice the global average, while the ice cover is predicted to be reduced by ~80% during summer and ~20% during winter. This suggests that the Arctic may be where the most rapid and dramatic climate changes take place during the 21st century, with major ramifications for mid-latitude climate.
The sea ice cover has over the last 2-3 decades decreased by ~10%, and the ice thickness has decreased up to 40% during summer. Other observed changes include a warming of the Atlantic water in the Arctic Ocean, increased precipitation in the Arctic regions and higher river discharge into the Arctic ocean. During the last decades detected changes include a significant freshening of the deep North Atlantic Ocean, warming in the deep water of the Nordic Seas and a decrease of deep overflow in the Faeroe Bank Channel. The oceanic fluxes of heat and freshwater between the North Atlantic, Nordic Seas and Arctic Ocean are key components of the high-latitude climate system.
The recent Arctic Climate Impact Assessment studies have identified a number of severe impacts of Arctic warming on society. Changes in air temperature, precipitation, river discharge, sea ice, permafrost, glaciers and sea level have been documented and further changes are expected in the next decades. The Arctic region is coming under increasing pressure from unsustainable development with pollution and other negative effects on the environment. The exploitation of resources, including sea transportation and offshore operations will be heavily affected by the climate- variability and long-term changes at high latitudes. The northeast Atlantic, including Greenland and Icelandic waters, the Barents Sea and other Arctic ice edge regions, provides 20% of the world’s fish catch. Ocean temperature is one of the key variables that have influence on fisheries. Various offshore operations in ice-covered waters will increase such as offshore exploration, drilling, oil and gas production, and gas transportation, pipeline deployment in the seabed, and building of terminals in several locations along the Arctic coasts. All these activities will increase the risk of accidents and severe pollution of the fragile Arctic environment.
The Arctic areas have rough weather and ice conditions which require improvement of operational monitoring and forecasting services in order to safeguard all types of marine and coastal operations. The operational services should also include long-term data archiving services to build up statistics of the environmental conditions. Operational services on met-ice-ocean conditions in theses areas are extremely important for safe and cost-effective industrial and transport activities as well as for protection of the vulnerable environment.
The overall objective of IPY Arctic GOOS to develop and implement operational monitoring and forecasting systems in the Arctic Ocean and adjacent seas. The systems will be based on state-of-the-art remote sensing, in situ observations, numerical modelling, data assimilation and dissemination techniques. The activities will include the development and maintenance of observing system for sea ice and physical, chemical and biological ocean parameters. The observing systems need to including icebergs, potential oil spills, radioactive spreading and other pollutants. In addition to observations, the systems will include numerical modelling and data assimilation for production of short-term forecasts. New models and data assimilation techniques need to be developed where needed. A long-term objective is to develop modelling systems for seasonal prediction of sea ice, hydrographic and current conditions. State-of-the-art climate models will be used to quantify climate change and variability and prediction of future climate changes under greenhouse gas scenarios. The Arctic EuroGOOS planning document is available at ftp://ftp.nersc.no/OMJ/att-eurogoos.pdf

Summary provided by http://classic.ipy.org/development/eoi/proposal-details.php?id=379