The recent Arctic sea ice loss is a key driver of the amplified surface warming in the northern high latitudes, and simultaneously a major source of uncertainty in model projections of Arctic climate change. Previous work has shown that the spread in model predictions of future Arctic amplification (AA) can be traced back to the inter-model spread in simulated long-term sea ice loss. We demonstrate that the strength of future AA is further linked to the current climate’s, observable sea ice state across the multi-model ensemble of the 6th Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6). The implication is that the sea-ice climatology sets the stage for long-term changes through the 21st century, which mediate the degree by which Arctic warming is amplified with respect to global warming. We determine that a lower base-climate sea ice extent and sea ice concentration (SIC) in CMIP6 models enable stronger ice melt in both future climate and during the seasonal cycle. In particular, models with lower Arctic-mean SIC project stronger future ice loss and a more intense seasonal cycle in ice melt and growth. Both processes systemically link to a larger future AA across climate models. These results are manifested by the role ofmore »
The rapid Arctic sea ice retreat in the early 21stcentury is believed to be driven by several dynamic and thermodynamic feedbacks, such as ice-albedo feedback and water vapor feedback. However, the role of clouds in these feedbacks remains unclear since the causality between clouds and these processes is complex. Here, we use NASA CERES satellite products and NCAR CESM model simulations to suggest that summertime low clouds have played an important role in driving sea ice melt by amplifying the adiabatic warming induced by a stronger anticyclonic circulation aloft. The upper-level high pressure regulates low clouds through stronger downward motion and increasing lower troposphere relative humidity. The increased low clouds favor more sea ice melt via emitting stronger longwave radiation. Then decreased surface albedo triggers a positive ice-albedo feedback, which further enhances sea ice melt. Considering the importance of summertime low clouds, accurate simulation of this process is a prerequisite for climate models to produce reliable future projections of Arctic sea ice.
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