Arctic sea ice thickness remained constant during the 1990s



The ice cover of the Arctic Ocean is considered to be a sensitive indicator of global climate change. Recent research, using submarine-based observations, suggests that the Arctic ice cover was thinner in the 1990s compared to an earlier period (1958–1979), and that it continued to decrease in thickness in the 1990s. Here I analyze subsurface ice thickness (draft) of Arctic sea ice from six submarine cruises from 1991 to 1997. This extensive data set shows that there was no trend towards a thinning ice cover during the 1990s. Data from the North Pole shows a slight increase in mean ice thickness, whereas the Beaufort Sea shows a small decrease, none of which are significant. Transects between the two areas from 76°N to 90°N also show near constant ice thicknesses, with a general spatial decrease from the Pole towards the Beaufort Sea. Combining the present results with those of an earlier study, I conclude that the mean ice thickness has remained on a near-constant level around the North Pole from 1986 to 1997.