The climate models used by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and others to project climate change do not accurately reflect what the future of the Arctic will be. Researchers at the University of Gothenburg argue that the rate of warming will be much faster than expected.
Due to the Arctic sea ice cover and its harsh climate, relatively few observations have been made in this part of the world. This means that the climate models used to predict the future of the Arctic have not been calibrated to the same extent as in other parts of the world.
Two recent scientific studies involving researchers from the University of Gothenburg compared the results of climate models with actual observations. They conclude that the Arctic Ocean will continue to warm at a much faster rate than climate models predict.
Climate models underestimate the consequences
“These climate models underestimate the consequences of climate change. In fact, the relatively warm waters in the Arctic regions are much warmer and closer to sea ice. Thus, we believe that Arctic sea ice will melt faster than expected,” explains Celine Hozy, a climatologist. University of Gothenburg and lead author of one of the studies.
Warm water flows into the Arctic Ocean through the Fram Strait between Greenland and Svalbard. However, the volume and temperature of water in these ocean currents in climate models are very low, which is one of the reasons why climate model projections are inaccurate. Even the stratification of the Arctic Ocean is incorrect. The researchers argue that because about half of the models project an increase and the other half a decrease in stratification, the consequences of global warming cannot be accurately estimated.
Priority should be given to obtaining solid data in the Arctic
“This is a dangerous situation. If governments and organizations around the world are going to rely on these climate models, they must be improved. That is why research and data acquisition in the Arctic Ocean must be prioritized. At the moment, we cannot provide a useful prediction of how quickly the ice will melt.” marine in the Arctic,” explains Celine Hozy.
The Arctic is an important region for projecting what the future intensity of global warming will be. Sea ice contributes to the albedo effect – a white surface that reflects sunlight away from the planet. If the ice disappeared, more solar radiation would reach the Earth.
“We need a climate model tailored to the Arctic. In general, you can’t use the same model for the entire planet, as conditions vary widely. A better idea might be to create a specific Arctic model that properly treats the processes that occur in the Arctic Ocean and regions The surrounding wilderness,” explains Celine Hozy.