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Fifth National Climate Assessment - Read the Report

Predicting Arctic sea ice change


Arctic sea ice typically reaches its annual minimum extent in September. Average September sea ice extent in the Arctic has continued to decrease over the past four decades. Some projections suggest that the Arctic will be virtually ice-free during summers by the middle of this century. This graph shows a decline in Arctic sea ice extent of about 30% from 1979 to 2021. Source: USGCRP Indicator Platform

The CICE model simulates changes to Arctic sea ice and its interactions with the polar environment over seasonal to decadal timescales. The model’s development and maintenance have been led and coordinated by DOE since the early 1990s, with contributions from NOAA, NASA, NSF, ONR, and many other participants. CICE and its support infrastructure are the global standard for sea ice modeling for multiple applications, including scientific research, climate modeling, forecasting, and operations planning. In 2021, the CICE Consortium—a group of primary developers and users of the CICE model—earned a spot in the R&D World’s top 100 innovation awards and won the Gold Medal for Corporate Social Responsibility for both the CICE code and the Consortium as an organization.