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Title: Revisiting the Cause of the 1989–2009 Arctic Surface Warming Using the Surface Energy Budget: Downward Infrared Radiation Dominates the Surface Fluxes
he Arctic has been warming faster than elsewhere, especially during the cold season. According to the leading theory, ice‐albedo feedback warms the Arctic Ocean during the summer, and the heat gained by the ocean is released during the winter, causing the cold‐season warming. Screen and Simmonds (2010; SS10) concluded that the theory is correct by comparing trend patterns in surface air temperature (SAT), surface turbulence heat flux (HF), and net surface infrared radiation (IR). However, in this comparison, downward IR is more appropriate to use. By analyzing the same data used in SS10 using the surface energy budget, it is shown here that over most of the Arctic the skin temperature trend, which closely resembles the SAT trend, is largely accounted for by the downward IR, not the HF, trend.  more » « less
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Geophysical research letters
Medium: X
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National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract

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    Significance Statement

    As a result of global warming, the Arctic Ocean’s sea ice is receding, exposing more and more areas to air–sea interactions. This reduces the range of seasonal changes in Arctic surface air temperatures (SAT). Since 1979, the reduced seasonal SAT signal has decreased the trend of warm SAT extremes by 25% over the background warming trend and doubled the trend of cold SAT extremes relative to SAT trends. A substantial number of warm and cold spells would not have been identified as exceptional if the reduction of the Arctic SAT seasonal amplitudes had not been taken into account. As the Arctic continues to warm and sea ice continues to diminish, seasonal SAT fluctuations will become more dampened, with the rate of decreasing winter SAT extremes exceeding the rate of increasing summer SAT extremes.

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