NPRB: Historical Sea Ice Mapping

FY 2014 | 1 – Understand | 14-10-10

NPRB: Historical Sea Ice Mapping

A. Mahoney, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Contract Term:
Award: $50,000

Scope of Work:

The ongoing loss of Arctic sea ice is a leading indicator of climate change, yet we have relatively little readily accessible historical information on the state of the ice prior to the advent of the satellite era. While there are a number of monthly-resolution gridded products and numerical indexes based on historical observations of ice extent, there is currently no database where unreduced sea-ice information is systematically collected. Although prior efforts have successfully reconstructed coarse maps of the historical presence or absence of sea ice from ship logbooks (Mahoney et al. 2011), a more comprehensive data rescue effort is required to the detailed descriptions and context associated with such observations if we are to understand extreme events and the complex ecological role played by sea ice over longer time scales. We propose to apply several new approaches to the recovery, organization, and display/analysis of historical sea ice observations that build upon our team’s experience with crowdsourcing and unstructured information management architecture. The primary product of this effort will be the recovery and transfer of sea ice information into a tractable analysis framework that, unlike standard approaches, will preserve maximum information content (including the link to primary sources). This will enable an understanding of past variations in the Arctic sea ice cover that is needed to establish confidence in future projections and will improve objective reconstructions of large-scale climate patterns through reanalysis that depend on an accurate depiction of the sea ice boundary condition.

This project is jointly funded by the North Pacific Research Board and OSRI.