The Bering Strait oceanic heat transport influences seasonal sea ice retreat and advance in the Chukchi Sea. Monitored since 1990, it depends on water temperature and factors controlling the volume transport, assumed to be local winds in the strait and an oceanic pressure difference between the Pacific and Arctic oceans (the “pressure head”). Recent work suggests that variability in the pressure head, especially during summer, relates to the strength of the zonal wind in the East Siberian Sea that raises or drops sea surface height in this area via Ekman transport. We confirm that westward winds in the East Siberian Sea relate to a broader central Arctic pattern of high sea level pressure and note that anticyclonic winds over the central Arctic Ocean also favor low September sea ice extent for the Arctic as a whole by promoting ice convergence and positive temperature anomalies. Month‐to‐month persistence in the volume transport and atmospheric circulation patterns is low, but the period 1980–2017 had a significant summertime (June–August) trend toward higher sea level pressure over the central Arctic Ocean, favoring increased transports. Some recent large heat transports are associated with high water temperatures, consistent with persistence of open water in the Chukchi Sea into winter and early ice retreat in spring. The highest heat transport recorded, October 2016, resulted from high water temperatures and ideal wind conditions yielding a record‐high volume transport. November and December 2005, the only months with southward volume (and thus heat) transports, were associated with southward winds in the strait.more » « less
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- p. 9317-9337
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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Abstract Predictability of seasonal sea ice advance in the Chukchi Sea has been investigated in the context of ocean heat transport from the Bering Strait; however, the underlying physical processes have yet to be fully clarified. Using the Pan-Arctic Ice–Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS) reanalysis product (1979–2016), we examined seasonal predictability of sea ice advance in early winter (November–December) and its source using canonical correlation analysis. It was found that 2-month leading (September–October) surface heat flux and ocean heat advection is the major predictor for interannual variability of sea ice advance. Surface heat flux is related to the atmospheric cooling process, which has influenced sea ice area in the southeastern Chukchi Sea particularly in the 1980s and 1990s. Anomalous surface heat flux is induced by strong northeasterly winds related to the east Pacific/North Pacific teleconnection pattern. Ocean heat advection, which is related to fluctuation of volume transport in the Bering Strait, leads to decrease in the sea ice area in the northwestern Chukchi Sea. Diagnostic analysis revealed that interannual variability of the Bering Strait volume transport is governed by arrested topographic waves (ATWs) forced by southeasterly wind stress along the shelf of the East Siberian Sea. The contribution of ocean heat flux to sea ice advance has increased since the 2000s; therefore, it is suggested that the major factor influencing interannual variability of sea ice advance in early winter has shifted from atmospheric cooling to ocean heat advection processes. Significance Statement Predictability of sea ice advance in the marginal Arctic seas in early winter is a crucial issue regarding future projections of the midlatitude winter climate and marine ecosystem. This study examined seasonal predictability of sea ice advance in the Chukchi Sea in early winter using a statistical technique and historical model simulation data. We identified that atmospheric cooling and ocean heat transport are the two main predictors of sea ice advance, and that the impact of the latter has become amplified since the 2000s. Our new finding suggests that the precise information on wind-driven ocean currents and temperatures is crucial for the skillful prediction of interannual variability of sea ice advance under present and future climatic regimes.more » « less
We utilize statistically modeled ocean heat transports through the Bering Strait along with additional predictors to create skillful predictions of sea ice retreat and advance dates in the Chukchi Sea. Interannual variability of June and September oceanic heat transports through the strait can be captured using modeled Ekman transports, surface winds, and sea surface temperatures. At one‐month leads, our models can explain 41% and 79% of sea ice retreat and advance date variance with root mean squared errors (RMSEs) of 10.2 and 12.8 days respectively. At 4‐month leads, our models can respectively capture 37% and 73% of sea ice retreat and advance date variance with RMSEs of 8.5 and 14.6 days. These findings offer a path toward operational forecasts of sea ice retreat and advance dates in the Chukchi Sea in the absence of direct, readily available observations of heat transports in the strait.
A regional data‐constrained coupled ocean‐sea ice general circulation model and its adjoint are used to investigate mechanisms controlling the volume transport variability through Bering Strait during 2002 to 2013. Comprehensive time‐resolved sensitivity maps of Bering Strait transport to atmospheric forcing can be accurately computed with the adjoint along the forward model trajectory to identify spatial and temporal scales most relevant to the strait's transport variability. The simulated Bering Strait transport anomaly is found to be controlled primarily by the wind stress on short time scales of order 1 month. Spatial decomposition indicates that on monthly time scales winds over the Bering and the combined Chukchi and East Siberian Seas are the most significant drivers. Continental shelf waves and coastally trapped waves are suggested as the dominant mechanisms for propagating information from the far field to the strait. In years with transport extrema, eastward wind stress anomalies in the Arctic sector are found to be the dominant control, with correlation coefficient of 0.94. This implies that atmospheric variability over the Arctic plays a substantial role in determining Bering Strait flow variability. The near‐linear response of the transport anomaly to wind stress allows for predictive skill at interannual time scales, thus potentially enabling skillful prediction of changes at this important Pacific‐Arctic gateway, provided that accurate measurements of surface winds in the Arctic can be obtained. The novelty of this work is the use of space and time‐resolved adjoint‐based sensitivity maps, which enable detailed dynamical, that is, causal attribution of the impacts of different forcings.
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