August 25, 2019 at 5:45 pm

Fogt Using NSF Grant to Explore Contemporary Variability in Antarctic sea ice

Dr. Ryan Fogt, portrait

Dr. Ryan Fogt

Dr. Ryan Fogt, Associate Professor of Geography and Scalia Lab Director, was awarded his third National Science Foundation grant from the NSF Office of Polar Programs.

His grant is titled Collaborative research: Understanding contemporary variability in Antarctic sea ice: Ensemble reconstruction of sea ice extent and concentration for the 20th century. The project started in September 2018 and will continue until August 2021.

As Fogt mentioned in a recent interview with Ohio University student newspaper The Post, he has several research projects on the continent, all of which focus on climate change in Antarctica and look at the role that humans may play in the phenomenon. Most of his work seeks to improve scientific understanding of the continuous sea ice record in Antarctica, which is quite limited because satellite records only date back to 1978. This is a significant confounding factor in ascertaining whether the observed changes are due to natural variability alone, or represent a forced anthropogenic response. As a result, the scientific understanding of the Antarctic sea ice trends remains poor, as does confidence in projections of Antarctic sea ice trends.

Fogt’s latest NSF-funded project will remedy the lack of knowledge about Antarctic sea ice variability prior to 1978, allowing answers to questions about the range and scope of Antarctic sea ice variability in the 20th century as well as the uniqueness of recent trends. The primary aim is to reconstruct the records as accurately as possible while retaining the variability associated with the intrinsic uncertainty in the available data. The project is novel because  it will use multiple techniques for the sea ice reconstruction model, relying largely upon the relationships between satellite-observed sea ice, sea level pressure, tropical sea surface temperature, ENSO indices, some proxy data (ice core, etc.), and in situ Southern Ocean temperature data.

This project will have substantial scientific and social impacts since it will make publicly available multiple sets of sea ice extent and concentration reconstructions, along with the code and necessary data needed to reproduce the reconstructions. These products will help to place the ongoing changes in Antarctic sea ice in a much longer historical context and will be beneficial to those in the modeling community providing a better constraint on Antarctic boundary conditions throughout the 20th century.

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