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Title: Future trends of arctic surface wind speeds and their relationship with sea ice in CMIP5 climate model simulations
Recent climate change in the Arctic has been rapid and dramatic, leading to numerous physical and societal consequences. Many studies have investigated these ongoing and projected future changes across a range of climatic variables, but surprisingly little attention has been paid to wind speed, despite its known importance for sea ice motion, ocean wave heights, and coastal erosion. Here we analyzed future trends in Arctic surface wind speed and its relationship with sea ice cover among CMIP5 global climate models. There is a strong anticorrelation between climatological sea ice concentration and wind speed in the early 21st-century reference climate, and the vast majority of models simulate widespread future strengthening of surface winds over the Arctic Ocean (annual multi-model mean trend of up to 0.8 m s−1 or 13%). Nearly all models produce an inverse relationship between projected changes in sea ice cover and wind speed, such that grid cells with virtually total ice loss almost always experience stronger winds. Consistent with the largest regional ice losses during autumn and winter, the greatest increases in future wind speeds are expected during these two seasons, with localized strengthening up to 23%. As in other studies, stronger surface winds cannot be attributed to tighter pressure gradients but rather to some combination of weakened atmospheric stability and reduced surface roughness as the surface warms and melts. The intermodel spread of wind speed changes, as expressed by the two most contrasting model results, appears to stem from differences in the treatment of surface roughness.  more » « less
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Climate Dynamics
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National Science Foundation
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