Mechanisms of regional winter sea-ice variability in a warming arctic
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonJournal of Climate. 2021, 34 (21), 8635-8653. 10.1175/JCLI-D-21-0149.1
The Arctic winter sea ice cover is in retreat overlaid by large internal variability. Changes to sea ice are driven by exchange of heat, momentum, and freshwater within and between the ocean and the atmosphere. Using a combination of observations and output from the Community Earth System Model Large Ensemble, we analyze and contrast present and future drivers of the regional winter sea ice cover. Consistent with observations and previous studies, we find that for the recent decades ocean heat transport though the Barents Sea and Bering Strait is a major source of sea ice variability in the Atlantic and Pacific sectors of the Arctic, respectively. Future projections show a gradually expanding footprint of Pacific and Atlantic inflows highlighting the importance of future Atlantification and Pacification of the Arctic Ocean. While the dominant hemispheric modes of winter atmospheric circulation are only weakly connected to the sea ice, we find distinct local atmospheric circulation patterns associated with present and future regional sea ice variability in the Atlantic and Pacific sectors, consistent with heat and moisture transport from lower latitudes. Even if the total freshwater input from rivers is projected to increase substantially, its influence on simulated sea ice is small in the context of internal variability.