Attributing near-surface atmospheric trends in the Fram Strait region to regional sea ice conditions

christof.luepkes [ at ]


Arctic sea ice has declined in all seasons accompanied by rapid atmospheric warming. Here, the focus lies on the wider Fram Strait region where the connection between trends in observed near-surface variables (temperature, humidity, wind speed) and local sea ice conditions are analyzed. Reanalysis data from ERA5 and MERRA-2 and Special Sen- sor Microwave/Imager ARTIST Sea Ice (SSM/I-ASI) sea ice concentrations for the winters of 1992 to 2022 are used for the analyses. Two focus regions are identified for which trends are largest. In the western Nansen Basin (WNB), sea ice cover decreased by − 10 % per decade with especially large open water areas in 2022, and temperature and humidity increased by up to 3.7 K and 0.29 g kg −1 per decade, respectively. In the Greenland sea region (GRL), trends were slightly smaller, with −4.7 % per decade for sea ice and up to 1.3 K and 0.15 g kg −1 per decade for temperature and humidity. Trends for wind speed were mostly not significant. As a next step, two typical flow directions for this region were studied: cold-air outbreaks with northerly winds origi- nating from ice covered areas (off-ice flow) and warm-air in- trusions with southerly winds from open ocean regions (on- ice flow). To identify possible relationships between sea ice changes and atmospheric trends, correlation maps were cal- culated, and the results for off- and on-ice flow were com- pared. Up to two thirds of the observed temperature and hu- midity variability in both regions are related to upstream sea ice variability and an influence of sea ice cover is still present up to 500 km downstream of the ice edge. In the marginal sea ice zone the impact of a decreasing sea ice cover in this region is largest for off-ice flow conditions during cold-air outbreaks.

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DOI 10.5194/tc-17-3115-2023

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Schmitt, A. U. and Lüpkes, C. (2023): Attributing near-surface atmospheric trends in the Fram Strait region to regional sea ice conditions , The Cryosphere, 17 , pp. 3115-3136 . doi: 10.5194/tc-17-3115-2023

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