Decline in Arctic sea ice thickness from submarine and ICESat records: 1958–2008
Article first published online: 6 AUG 2009
Copyright 2009 by the American Geophysical Union.
Geophysical Research Letters
Volume 36, Issue 15, 16 August 2009
How to Cite
2009), Decline in Arctic sea ice thickness from submarine and ICESat records: 1958–2008, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L15501, doi:10.1029/2009GL039035., and (
- Issue published online: 6 AUG 2009
- Article first published online: 6 AUG 2009
- Manuscript Accepted: 22 JUN 2009
- Manuscript Received: 4 MAY 2009
- sea ice thickness;
- Arctic Ocean;
- polar climate
 The decline of sea ice thickness in the Arctic Ocean from ICESat (2003–2008) is placed in the context of estimates from 42 years of submarine records (1958–2000) described by Rothrock et al. (1999, 2008). While the earlier 1999 work provides a longer historical record of the regional changes, the latter offers a more refined analysis, over a sizable portion of the Arctic Ocean supported by a much stronger and richer data set. Within the data release area (DRA) of declassified submarine sonar measurements (covering ∼38% of the Arctic Ocean), the overall mean winter thickness of 3.64 m in 1980 can be compared to a 1.89 m mean during the last winter of the ICESat record—an astonishing decrease of 1.75 m in thickness. Between 1975 and 2000, the steepest rate of decrease is −0.08 m/yr in 1990 compared to a slightly higher winter/summer rate of −0.10/−0.20 m/yr in the five-year ICESat record (2003–2008). Prior to 1997, ice extent in the DRA was >90% during the summer minimum. This can be contrasted to the gradual decrease in the early 2000s followed by an abrupt drop to <55% during the record setting minimum in 2007. This combined analysis shows a long-term trend of sea ice thinning over submarine and ICESat records that span five decades.