Seasonal predictability of the minimum sea ice extent (SIE) in the Laptev Sea is investigated using winter coastal divergence as a predictor. From February to May, the new ice forming in wind-driven coastal polynyas grows to a thickness approximately equal to the climatological thickness loss due to summer thermodynamic processes. Estimating the area of sea ice that is preconditioned to melt enables seasonal predictability of the minimum SIE. Wintertime ice motion is quantified by seeding passive tracers along the coastlines and advecting them with the Lagrangian Ice Tracking System (LITS) forced with sea ice drifts from the Polar Pathfinder dataset for years 1992–2016. LITS-derived landfast ice estimates are comparable to those of the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute ice charts. Time series of the minimum SIE and coastal divergence show trends of −24.2% and +31.3% per decade, respectively. Statistically significant correlation ( r = −0.63) between anomalies of coastal divergence and the following September SIE occurs for coastal divergence integrated from February to the beginning of May. Using the coastal divergence anomaly to predict the minimum SIE departure from the trend improves the explained variance by 21% compared to hindcasts based on persistence of the linear trend. Coastal divergence anomalies correlate with the winter mean Arctic Oscillation index ( r = 0.69). LITS-derived areas of coastal divergence tend to underestimate the total area covered by thin ice in the CryoSat-2/SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) thickness dataset, as suggested by a thermodynamic sea ice growth model.
In recent decades, the Arctic minimum sea ice extent has transitioned from a predominantly thick multiyear ice cover to a thinner seasonal ice cover. We partition the total (observed) Arctic summer area loss into thermodynamic and dynamic (convergence, ridging, and export) sea ice area loss during the satellite era from 1979 to 2021 using a Lagrangian sea ice tracking model driven by satellite-derived sea ice velocities. Results show that the thermodynamic signal dominates the total summer ice area loss and the dynamic signal remains small (∼20%) even in 2007 when dynamic loss was largest. Sea ice loss by compaction (within pack ice convergence) dominates the dynamic area loss, even in years when the export is largest. Results from a simple (Ekman) free-drift sea ice model, supported by results from the Lagrangian model, suggest that nonlinear effects between dynamic and thermodynamic area loss can be important for large negative anomalies in sea ice extent, in accord with previous modeling studies. A detailed analysis of two all-time record minimum years (2007 and 2012)—one with a semipermanent high in the southern Beaufort Sea and the other with a short-lived but extreme storm in the Pacific sector of the Arctic in late summer—shows that compaction by Ekman convergence together with large thermodynamic melt in the marginal ice zone dominated the sea ice area loss in 2007 whereas, in 2012, it was dominated by Ekman divergence amplified by sea–ice albedo feedback—together with an early melt onset. We argue that Ekman divergence from more intense summer storms when the sun is high above the horizon is a more likely mechanism for a “first-time” ice-free Arctic.more » « less
- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- American Meteorological Society
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Journal of Climate
- Medium: X Size: p. 7693-7713
- ["p. 7693-7713"]
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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