Arctic sea ice has declined dramatically during the last few decades, posing challenges and opportunities for Alaskan residents, subsistence users, and maritime operators. (Credit: NOAA Climate.gov)
Dr. Brian Brettschneider of the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy (ACCAP) created an alternative method to forecast sea ice extent based on similar years in the past. In a rapidly changing environment such as the Arctic, analog forecasting is a key tool in the climate forecasting toolbox.
Most sea ice projections from 2 to 9 months in advance are generated by dynamic or statistical climate models. These models have widely varying success (verification) rates. Brettschneider’s forecast method represents a sophisticated form of pattern matching.
Estimating the maximum and minimum sea ice extent before it occurs is a critical tool for implementing near-term public policy and operational resource decisions. For example, sea ice forecasts can significantly boost the situational awareness of the Navy and Coast Guard’s Arctic security exercises, as well as that of commercial ships transiting the region.
ACCAP is a NOAA Regional Integrated Science and Assessments team.