Researchers from the University of Chicago and Massachusetts Institute of Technology used a simple math trick to predict the effects of pond shape and melting on Arctic sea ice, according to Geek.com. The technique is covered in their recent study, which could help scientists predict climate change.
“Sea ice” refers to the water frozen by the ocean each winter, and it can impact global weather conditions by reflecting heat into space and regulating ocean circulation.
“But sea ice cover has been shrinking, and significantly faster than our models predict,” said Predrag Popović, first author of the paper. “So we’re looking for where the discrepancy might be.”
Popović and his team created a series of random overlapping circles, and the empty spaces between them represent melt ponds (they call this the “void” approach). After comparing their generated images with aerial shots of sea ice between 1998 and 2005, they found that this procedure is effective for estimating how real-world basins form and behave.
“You can get similar characteristics using other mathematical methods, but the void model is much simpler and just as accurate,” said Dorian Abbot, senior author of the study. “Knowing this simple technique can accurately describe ponds could improve our predictions of how sea ice will respond as the Arctic continues to warm.”
“It really sets a target for understanding of sea ice,” said Mary Silber, co-author of the study.
The findings were published in Physical Review Letters.