– Contributed by Penny Wagner

The sea ice covers of the polar oceans are a critical element of the global system. With support from the Research Council of Norway, CliC, the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) and the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), 48 researchers from 13 countries, including 10 early career scientists, met from June 5-7, 2013 in Tromso, Norway to discuss the next steps in better integrating sea ice observations and modeling. The group included field experimentalists, remote sensing specialists, and sea ice and climate modelers. The workshop featured overview presentations on sea ice observations, models, remote sensing, and data archiving plus ample time for group discussions. Five 7-9 person teams consisting of scientists from a mixture of areas of expertise were assembled to develop a list of key gaps of knowledge within sea ice observations and models. Targeted activities that could close some of these gaps were proposed with separate short (6 months to a year), medium (1-2 years), and long (3 years or more) term goals.  A common theme from these projects was the need for standardization of sea ice observation data from the Arctic, developing and implementing a standardized, computerized ship-based ice observation protocols and creating an online center for summarizing ongoing field activities. The combination of ASPeCt and IceWatch efforts will help create an ongoing inventory of sea ice and sea ice related datasets for both Arctic and Antarctic. Download the report.

This meeting identified key areas where we need to improve our understanding of sea ice properties and processes and enhance our ability to model sea ice on different spatial and temporal scales. There are important issues with sea ice dynamics and thermodynamics that the proposed activities will address. We need to improve our understanding of sea ice rheologies and ice drift and deformation mechanisms which significantly contribute to sea ice thickness errors in models.  Another principal factor that will help us accurately detect sea ice is implementing a better parameterization/understanding of snow processes for sea ice in both poles. It was agreed that we should update the Warren climatology for the Arctic (1999), and build a climatology for the Antarctic through a comprehensive data trawling exercise to parameterize snow processes on sea ice.  In addition, participants pointed to a need to integrate surface-based and airborne observations with modeling activities and remote sensing. Team members with modeling backgrounds will help identify priorities and types of observations of greatest utility in understanding and predicting changes in the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice cover.

The participants identified the importance of collaboration in moving forward in sea ice science, including international partnerships and interdisciplinary studies. We are planning research activities that integrate modeling, in situ field observations, and remote sensing data. Results from these efforts will be shared through easily accessible data archives. Those interested in participating in further activities resulting from the workshop should contact any of the authors of this meeting report.

The report, presentations, FrostByte videos, and more can be found at

or download the report directly here.