Seasonal atmospheric responses to reduced Arctic sea ice in an ensemble of coupled model simulations

Tido.Semmler [ at ]


Arctic sea ice decline is expected to continue throughout the 21st century as a result of increased greenhouse gas concentrations. Here we investigate the impact of a strong Arctic sea ice decline on the atmospheric circulation and low pressure systems in the Northern Hemisphere through numerical experimentation with a coupled climate model. More specifically, a large ensemble of 1-year long integrations, initialized on 1 June with Arctic sea ice thickness artificially reduced by 80%, is compared to corresponding, unperturbed control experiments. The sensitivity experiment shows an ice-free Arctic from July to October; during autumn the largest near-surface temperature increase of about 15 K is found in the central Arctic, which goes along with a reduced meridional temperature gradient, a decreased jet stream, and a southward shifted Northern Hemisphere storm track; and the near-surface temperature response in winter and spring reduces substantially due to relatively fast sea ice growth during the freezing season. Changes in the maximum Eady growth rate are generally below 5% and hardly significant, with reduced vertical wind shear and reduced vertical stability counteracting each other. The reduced vertical wind shear manifests itself in a decrease of synoptic activity by up to 10% and shallower cyclones while the reduced vertical stability along with stronger diabatic heating due to more available moisture may be responsible for the stronger deepening rates and thus faster cyclone development once a cyclone started to form. Furthermore, precipitation minus evaporation decreases over the Arctic because the increase in evaporation outweighs that for precipitation with implications for the ocean stratification and hence ocean circulation.

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DOI 10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0586.1

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Semmler, T. , Stulic, L. , Jung, T. , Tilinina, N. , Campos, C. , Gulev, S. K. and Koracin, D. (2016): Seasonal atmospheric responses to reduced Arctic sea ice in an ensemble of coupled model simulations , Journal of Climate, 29 , pp. 5893-5913 . doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0586.1

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