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Arctic sea-ice variability is primarily driven by atmospheric temperature fluctuations
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Meteorology .
Number of Authors: 32019 (English)In: Nature Geoscience, ISSN 1752-0894, E-ISSN 1752-0908, Vol. 12, no 6, p. 430-434Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The anthropogenically forced decline of Arctic sea ice is superimposed on strong internal variability. Possible drivers for this variability include fluctuations in surface albedo, clouds and water vapour, surface winds and poleward atmospheric and oceanic energy transport, but their relative contributions have not been quantified. By isolating the impact of the individual drivers in an Earth system model, we here demonstrate that internal variability of sea ice is primarily caused directly by atmospheric temperature fluctuations. The other drivers together explain only 25% of sea-ice variability. The dominating impact of atmospheric temperature fluctuations on sea ice is consistent across observations, reanalyses and simulations from global climate models. Such atmospheric temperature fluctuations occur due to variations in moist-static energy transport or local ocean heat release to the atmosphere. The fact that atmospheric temperature fluctuations are the key driver for sea-ice variability limits prospects of interannual predictions of sea ice, and suggests that observed record lows in Arctic sea-ice area are a direct response to an unusually warm atmosphere.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 12, no 6, p. 430-434
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-170115DOI: 10.1038/s41561-019-0363-1ISI: 000469459600009OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-170115DiVA, id: diva2:1332685
Available from: 2019-06-28 Created: 2019-06-28 Last updated: 2019-06-28Bibliographically approved

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