GREENICE - Impacts of Sea-Ice and Snow-Cover Changes on Climate, Green Growth, and Society

Project Department: Uni Research Climate (group: Climate Variability) period: 01.08.14 - 31.12.17

About the project

GREENICE: Impacts of Sea-Ice and Snow-Cover Changes on Climate, Green Growth, and Society


The Challenge


How will Earth’s climate respond to future changes in sea ice and snow cover? In spite of many advances in climate science, great uncertainty remains concerning how much climate change to expect in the future. This is particularly crucial with regard to the interactions between changes in the climate system as a whole, and changes in sea ice and snow cover.

Extreme weather events such as winter cold snaps and summer heat waves have been linked to the dramatic loss of sea ice coupled with warming occurring in the Arctic, and to increases in Eurasian autumn and winter snow cover. Most of these recent changes in the cryosphere are likely to be a result of global warming, and may thus accelerate. Studies indicate that such cryospheric changes can impact the large-scale atmospheric circulation and weather extremes significantly. However, there is controversy over the magnitude of these impacts and their underlying mechanisms. To what extent the observed extreme events are caused by the loss of Arctic sea ice remains an open question.

While the topic of change is much emphasized in GREENICE, rapid change is not new to northern communities, and Arctic residents should be seen as creative actors rather than passive and vulnerable victims of external forces. This viewpoint will illuminate GREENICE research as we explore the complex processes that are occurring in our study locations, and as we document how small communities cope with both climate and social change. GREENICE will place considerable emphasis on facilitating local-community participation in this research process.

Project Objectives

How does the atmosphere respond to sea-ice and snow-cover changes?

The main goal of GREENICE is to address this key uncertainty in the northern hemisphere climate system, and thus provide knowledge relevant to the welfare and green growth of northern communities.

The project has the following specific objectives:

  • To better understand the impact of sea-ice and snow-cover changes on atmospheric circulation and weather extremes.
  • To provide more constrained predictions of near-term changes in climate and associated weather extremes.
  • To better quantify the uncertainties of climate change for northern communities and other stakeholders.
  • To contribute to the prediction and understanding of extreme weather and sea-ice events in order to help northern communities prepare for such events.
  • To develop solid interdisciplinary and policy-relevant knowledge on northern human and biophysical systems with particular emphasis on the dynamic interplay and linkages between climate, resource governance and sustainable development in the context of both historical processes and contemporary issues.

GREENICE also aims to strengthen cooperation across Nordic countries and with Russia.




GREENICE will contribute to improving our understanding of how the atmosphere responds to changes in ocean transport, sea ice and snow cover by combining analysis of observed climate data with global and regional climate models. GREENICE will use this knowledge to enhance our ability to predict both anthropogenic and naturally-driven change on 10-30 year timescales. Stakeholder partners from the hydroelectric sector and elsewhere will be able to incorporate this information into their plans for coping with future change.

An important focus of GREENICE will be to undertake case studies in selected northern communities in order to increase understanding of the present and historical adaptation of these communities to both climate and social change. The project will include local experience-based knowledge in order to foster a mutual dialogue between researchers and stakeholders. All results will be shared with local communities. A more comprehensive understanding of future changes will facilitate the ability of Arctic societies to adapt to climate and other changes, and to address problems of green-growth development.


Expected results


GREENICE will provide a quantitative estimate of the atmospheric response to the ocean signals, sea-ice and snow-cover changes, including their role in climate change in the past. This will contribute to reduced uncertainty in future projections for Northern Hemisphere climate and weather extremes.

GREENICE will contribute to a holistic understanding of the dynamics and functions of a variety of the components, both social and physical, that make up the complex system that constitutes the Arctic, and to make this knowledge widely available.

Improved forecasts of regional climate, added to greater understanding of the human dimension and stakeholder interests, will give important input to community adaptation, public management, transport and industry development, and prospects for resource exploitation (e.g., hydropower production, fisheries management, Arctic shipping, oil and gas exploitation, and climate adaptation). Our results will help to build strategies and provide input for socio-economic development in the Arctic in the 21st century.


cp: 2019-12-04 11:16:27