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Title: The Weakening of the Stratospheric Polar Vortex and the Subsequent Surface Impacts as Consequences to Arctic Sea Ice Loss

This study investigates the stratospheric response to Arctic sea ice loss and subsequent near-surface impacts by analyzing 200-member coupled experiments using the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model version 6 (WACCM6) with preindustrial, present-day, and future sea ice conditions specified following the protocol of the Polar Amplification Model Intercomparison Project. The stratospheric polar vortex weakens significantly in response to the prescribed sea ice loss, with a larger response to greater ice loss (i.e., future minus preindustrial) than to smaller ice loss (i.e., future minus present-day). Following the weakening of the stratospheric circulation in early boreal winter, the coupled stratosphere–troposphere response to ice loss strengthens in late winter and early spring, projecting onto a negative North Atlantic Oscillation–like pattern in the lower troposphere. To investigate whether the stratospheric response to sea ice loss and subsequent surface impacts depend on the background oceanic state, ensemble members are initialized by a combination of varying phases of Atlantic multidecadal variability (AMV) and interdecadal Pacific variability (IPV). Different AMV and IPV states combined, indeed, can modulate the stratosphere–troposphere responses to sea ice loss, particularly in the North Atlantic sector. Similar experiments with another climate model show that, although strong sea ice forcing also leads to tighter stratosphere–troposphere coupling than weak sea ice forcing, the timing of the response differs from that in WACCM6. Our findings suggest that Arctic sea ice loss can affect the stratospheric circulation and subsequent tropospheric variability on seasonal time scales, but modulation by the background oceanic state and model dependence need to be taken into account.

Significance Statement

This study uses new-generation climate models to better understand the impacts of Arctic sea ice loss on the surface climate in the midlatitudes, including North America, Europe, and Siberia. We focus on the stratosphere–troposphere pathway, which involves the weakening of stratospheric winds and its downward coupling into the troposphere. Our results show that Arctic sea ice loss can affect the surface climate in the midlatitudes via the stratosphere–troposphere pathway, and highlight the modulations from background mean oceanic states as well as model dependence.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Publisher / Repository:
American Meteorological Society
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Climate
Medium: X Size: p. 309-333
["p. 309-333"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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