skip to main content

Attention:

The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Thursday, May 23 until 2:00 AM ET on Friday, May 24 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Title: Evidence for an increasing role of ocean heat in Arctic winter sea ice growth
Abstract We investigate how sea ice decline in summer and warmer ocean and surface temperatures in winter affect sea ice growth in the Arctic. Sea ice volume changes are estimated from satellite observations during winter from 2002 to 2019 and partitioned into thermodynamic growth and dynamic volume change. Both components are compared to validated sea ice-ocean models forced by reanalysis data to extend observations back to 1980 and to understand the mechanisms that cause the observed trends and variability. We find that a negative feedback driven by the increasing sea ice retreat in summer yields increasing thermodynamic ice growth during winter in the Arctic marginal seas eastward from the Laptev Sea to the Beaufort Sea. However, in the Barents and Kara Seas, this feedback seems to be overpowered by the impact of increasing oceanic heat flux and air temperatures, resulting in negative trends in thermodynamic ice growth of -2 km 3 month -1 yr -1 on average over 2002-2019 derived from satellite observations.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1744587 1927785
NSF-PAR ID:
10233895
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Climate
ISSN:
0894-8755
Page Range / eLocation ID:
1 to 42
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract. In September 2019, the researchicebreaker Polarstern started the largest multidisciplinary Arctic expedition to date,the MOSAiC (Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of ArcticClimate) drift experiment. Being moored to an ice floe for a whole year,thus including the winter season, the declared goal of the expedition is tobetter understand and quantify relevant processes within theatmosphere–ice–ocean system that impact the sea ice mass and energy budget,ultimately leading to much improved climate models. Satellite observations,atmospheric reanalysis data, and readings from a nearby meteorologicalstation indicate that the interplay of high ice export in late winter andexceptionally high air temperatures resulted in the longest ice-free summerperiod since reliable instrumental records began. We show, using aLagrangian tracking tool and a thermodynamic sea ice model, that the MOSAiCfloe carrying the Central Observatory (CO) formed in a polynya event northof the New Siberian Islands at the beginning of December 2018. The resultsfurther indicate that sea ice in the vicinity of the CO (<40 kmdistance) was younger and 36 % thinner than the surrounding ice withpotential consequences for ice dynamics and momentum and heat transferbetween ocean and atmosphere. Sea ice surveys carried out on variousreference floes in autumn 2019 verify this gradient in ice thickness, andsediments discovered in ice cores (so-called dirty sea ice) around the COconfirm contact with shallow waters in an early phase of growth, consistentwith the tracking analysis. Since less and less ice from the Siberianshelves survives its first summer (Krumpen et al., 2019), the MOSAiCexperiment provides the unique opportunity to study the role of sea ice as atransport medium for gases, macronutrients, iron, organic matter,sediments and pollutants from shelf areas to the central Arctic Ocean andbeyond. Compared to data for the past 26 years, the sea ice encountered atthe end of September 2019 can already be classified as exceptionally thin,and further predicted changes towards a seasonally ice-free ocean willlikely cut off the long-range transport of ice-rafted materials by theTranspolar Drift in the future. A reduced long-range transport of sea icewould have strong implications for the redistribution of biogeochemicalmatter in the central Arctic Ocean, with consequences for the balance ofclimate-relevant trace gases, primary production and biodiversity in theArctic Ocean. 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Arctic surface warming under greenhouse gas forcing peaks in winter and reaches its minimum during summer in both observations and model projections. Many mechanisms have been proposed to explain this seasonal asymmetry, but disentangling these processes remains a challenge in the interpretation of general circulation model (GCM) experiments. To isolate these mechanisms, we use an idealized single-column sea ice model (SCM) that captures the seasonal pattern of Arctic warming. SCM experiments demonstrate that as sea ice melts and exposes open ocean, the accompanying increase in effective surface heat capacity alone can produce the observed pattern of peak warming in early winter (shifting to late winter under increased forcing) by slowing the seasonal heating rate, thus delaying the phase and reducing the amplitude of the seasonal cycle of surface temperature. To investigate warming seasonality in more complex models, we perform GCM experiments that individually isolate sea ice albedo and thermodynamic effects under CO2forcing. These also show a key role for the effective heat capacity of sea ice in promoting seasonal asymmetry through suppressing summer warming, in addition to precluding summer climatological inversions and a positive summer lapse-rate feedback. Peak winter warming in GCM experiments is further supported by a positive winter lapse-rate feedback, due to cold initial surface temperatures and strong surface-trapped warming that are enabled by the albedo effects of sea ice alone. While many factors contribute to the seasonal pattern of Arctic warming, these results highlight changes in effective surface heat capacity as a central mechanism supporting this seasonality.

    Significance Statement

    Under increasing concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases, the strongest Arctic warming has occurred during early winter, but the reasons for this seasonal pattern of warming are not well understood. We use experiments in both simple and complex models with certain sea ice processes turned on and off to disentangle potential drivers of seasonality in Arctic warming. When sea ice melts and open ocean is exposed, surface temperatures are slower to reach the warm-season maximum and slower to cool back down below freezing in early winter. We find that this process alone can produce the observed pattern of maximum Arctic warming in early winter, highlighting a fundamental mechanism for the seasonality of Arctic warming.

     
    more » « less
  3. Climate change has affected the Arctic Ocean (AO) and its marginal seas significantly. The reduction of sea ice in the Arctic region has altered the magnitude of photosynthetically available radiation (PAR) entering the water column, impacting primary productivity. Increasing cloudiness in the atmosphere and rising turbidity in the coastal waters of the Arctic region are considered as the major factors that counteract the effect of reduced sea ice on underwater PAR. Additionally, extreme solar zenith angles and sea-ice cover in the AO increase the complexity of retrieving PAR. In this study, a PAR algorithm based on radiative transfer in the atmosphere and satellite observations is implemented to evaluate the effect of these factors on PAR in the coastal AO. To improve the performance of the algorithm, a flag is defined to identify pixels containing open-water, sea-ice or cloud. The use of flag enabled selective application of algorithms to compute the input parameters for the PAR algorithm. The PAR algorithm is validated using in situ measurements from various coastal sites in the Arctic and sub-Arctic seas. The algorithm estimated daily integrated PAR above the sea surface with an uncertainty of 19% in summer. The uncertainty increased to 24% when the algorithm was applied year-round. The PAR values at the seafloor were estimated with an uncertainty of 76%, with 36% of the samples under sea ice and/or cloud cover. The robust performance of the PAR algorithm in the pan-Arctic region throughout the year will help to effectively study the temporal and spatial variability of PAR in the Arctic coastal waters. The calculated PAR data are used to quantify the changing trend in PAR at the seafloor in the coastal AO with depth < 100 m using MODIS-Aqua data from 2003 to 2020. The general trends calculated using the pixels with average PAR > 0.415 mol m−2 day−1 at the seafloor during summer indicate that the annual average of PAR entering the water column in the coastal AO between 2003 and 2020 increased by 23%. Concurrently, due to increased turbidity, the attenuation in the water column increased by 22%. The surge in incident PAR in the water column due to retreating sea ice first led to increased PAR observed at the seafloor (∼12% between 2003 and 2014). However, in the last decade, the rapid increase in light attenuation of the water column has restricted the increase in average annual PAR reaching the bottom in the coastal AO. 
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    Strengthened by polar amplification, Arctic warming provides direct evidence for global climate change. This analysis shows how Arctic surface air temperature (SAT) extremes have changed throughout time. Using ERA5, we demonstrate a pan-Arctic (>60°N) significant upward SAT trend of +0.62°C decade−1since 1979. Due to this warming, the warmest days of each month in the 1980s to 1990s would be considered average today, while the present coldest days would be regarded as normal in the 1980s to 1990s. Over 1979–2021, there was a 2°C (or 7%) reduction of pan-Arctic SAT seasonal cycle, which resulted in warming of the cold SAT extremes by a factor of 2 relative to the SAT trend and dampened trends of the warm SAT extremes by roughly 25%. Since 1979, autumn has seen the strongest increasing trends in daily maximum and minimum temperatures, as well as counts of days with SAT above the 90th percentile and decreasing trends in counts of days with SAT below the 10th percentile, consistent with rapid Arctic sea ice decline and enhanced air–ocean heat fluxes. The modulated SAT seasonal signal has a significant impact on the timing of extremely strong monthly cold and warm spells. The dampening of the SAT seasonal fluctuations is likely to continue to increase as more sea ice melts and upper-ocean warming persists. As a result, the Arctic winter cold SAT extremes may continue to exhibit a faster rate of change than that of the summer warm SAT extremes as the Arctic continues to warm.

    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.

     
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    A description and assessment of the first release of the Arctic Subpolar gyre sTate Estimate (ASTE_R1), a data‐constrained ocean‐sea ice model‐data synthesis, is presented. ASTE_R1 has a nominal resolution of 1/3° and spans the period 2002–2017. The fit of the model to an extensive (O(109)) set of satellite and in situ observations was achieved through adjoint‐based nonlinear least squares optimization. The improvement of the solution compared to an unconstrained simulation is reflected in misfit reductions of 77% for Argo, 50% for satellite sea surface height, 58% for the Fram Strait mooring, 65% for Ice Tethered Profilers, and 83% for sea ice extent. Exact dynamical and kinematic consistency is a key advantage of ASTE_R1, distinguishing the state estimate from existing ocean reanalyses. Through strict adherence to conservation laws, all sources and sinks within ASTE_R1 can be accounted for, permitting meaningful analysis of closed budgets at the grid‐scale, such as contributions of horizontal and vertical convergence to the tendencies of heat and salt. ASTE_R1 thus serves as the biggest effort undertaken to date of producing a specialized Arctic ocean‐ice estimate over the 21st century. Transports of volume, heat, and freshwater are consistent with published observation‐based estimates across important Arctic Mediterranean gateways. Interannual variability and low frequency trends of freshwater and heat content are well represented in the Barents Sea, western Arctic halocline, and east subpolar North Atlantic. Systematic biases remain in ASTE_R1, including a warm bias in the Atlantic Water layer in the Arctic and deficient freshwater inputs from rivers and Greenland discharge.

     
    more » « less