ABSTRACT: Ongoing and projected greenhouse warming clearly manifests itself in the Arctic regions, which warm faster than any other part of the world. One of the key features of amplified Arctic warming concerns Arctic winter warming (AWW), which exceeds summer warming by at least a factor of 4. Here we use observation-driven reanalyses and state-of-the-art climate models in a variety of standardised climate change simulations to show that AWW is strongly linked to winter sea ice retreat through the associated release of surplus ocean heat gained in summer through the ice-albedo feedback (~25%), and to infrared radiation feedbacks (~75%). Arctic summer warming is surprisingly modest, even after summer sea ice has completely disappeared. Quantifying the seasonally varying changes in Arctic temperature and sea ice and the associated feedbacks helps to more accurately quantify the likelihood of Arctic's climate changes, and to assess their impact on local ecosystems and socio-economic activities.
Project description:The loss of Arctic sea ice is a conspicuous example of climate change. Climate models project ice-free conditions during summer this century under realistic emission scenarios, reflecting the increase in seasonality in ice cover. To quantify the increased seasonality in the Arctic-Subarctic sea ice system, we define a non-dimensional seasonality number for sea ice extent, area, and volume from satellite data and realistic coupled climate models. We show that the Arctic-Subarctic, i.e. the northern hemisphere, sea ice now exhibits similar levels of seasonality to the Antarctic, which is in a seasonal regime without significant change since satellite observations began in 1979. Realistic climate models suggest that this transition to the seasonal regime is being accompanied by a maximum in Arctic amplification, which is the faster warming of Arctic latitudes compared to the global mean, in the 2010s. The strong link points to a peak in sea-ice-related feedbacks that occurs long before the Arctic becomes ice-free in summer.
Project description:Mid-Holocene climate was characterized by strong summer solar heating that decreased Arctic sea ice cover. Motivated by recent studies identifying Arctic sea ice loss as a key driver of future climate change, we separate the influences of Arctic sea ice loss on mid-Holocene climate. By performing idealized climate model perturbation experiments, we show that Arctic sea ice loss causes zonally asymmetric surface temperature responses especially in winter: sea ice loss warms North America and the North Pacific, which would otherwise be much colder due to weaker winter insolation. In contrast, over East Asia, sea ice loss slightly decreases the temperature in early winter. These temperature responses are associated with the weakening of mid-high latitude westerlies and polar stratospheric warming. Sea ice loss also weakens the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, although this weakening signal diminishes after 150-200 years of model integration. These results suggest that mid-Holocene climate changes should be interpreted in terms of both Arctic sea ice cover and insolation forcing.
Project description:Arctic amplification of global warming has led to increased summer sea ice retreat, which influences gas exchange between the Arctic Ocean and the atmosphere where sea ice previously acted as a physical barrier. Indeed, recently observed enhanced atmospheric methane concentrations in Arctic regions with fractional sea-ice cover point to unexpected feedbacks in cycling of methane. We report on methane excess in sea ice-influenced water masses in the interior Arctic Ocean and provide evidence that sea ice is a potential source. We show that methane release from sea ice into the ocean occurs via brine drainage during freezing and melting i.e. in winter and spring. In summer under a fractional sea ice cover, reduced turbulence restricts gas transfer, then seawater acts as buffer in which methane remains entrained. However, in autumn and winter surface convection initiates pronounced efflux of methane from the ice covered ocean to the atmosphere. Our results demonstrate that sea ice-sourced methane cycles seasonally between sea ice, sea-ice-influenced seawater and the atmosphere, while the deeper ocean remains decoupled. Freshening due to summer sea ice retreat will enhance this decoupling, which restricts the capacity of the deeper Arctic Ocean to act as a sink for this greenhouse gas.
Project description:Several large-scale cryosphere elements such as the Arctic summer sea ice, the mountain glaciers, the Greenland and West Antarctic Ice Sheet have changed substantially during the last century due to anthropogenic global warming. However, the impacts of their possible future disintegration on global mean temperature (GMT) and climate feedbacks have not yet been comprehensively evaluated. Here, we quantify this response using an Earth system model of intermediate complexity. Overall, we find a median additional global warming of 0.43?°C (interquartile range: 0.39-0.46?°C) at a CO2 concentration of 400 ppm. Most of this response (55%) is caused by albedo changes, but lapse rate together with water vapour (30%) and cloud feedbacks (15%) also contribute significantly. While a decay of the ice sheets would occur on centennial to millennial time scales, the Arctic might become ice-free during summer within the 21st century. Our findings imply an additional increase of the GMT on intermediate to long time scales.
Project description:The Holocene thermal maximum was characterized by strong summer solar heating that substantially increased the summertime temperature relative to preindustrial climate. However, the summer warming was compensated by weaker winter insolation, and the annual mean temperature of the Holocene thermal maximum remains ambiguous. Using multimodel mid-Holocene simulations, we show that the annual mean Northern Hemisphere temperature is strongly correlated with the degree of Arctic amplification and sea ice loss. Additional model experiments show that the summer Arctic sea ice loss persists into winter and increases the mid- and high-latitude temperatures. These results are evaluated against four proxy datasets to verify that the annual mean northern high-latitude temperature during the mid-Holocene was warmer than the preindustrial climate, because of the seasonally rectified temperature increase driven by the Arctic amplification. This study offers a resolution to the “Holocene temperature conundrum”, a well-known discrepancy between paleo-proxies and climate model simulations of Holocene thermal maximum.
Project description:The Arctic is experiencing the greatest warming on Earth, as most evident by rapid sea ice loss. Delayed sea ice freeze-up in the Alaskan Arctic is decreasing wintertime sea ice extent and changing marine biological activity. However, the impacts of newly open water on wintertime sea spray aerosol (SSA) production and atmospheric composition are unknown. Herein, we identify SSA, produced locally from open sea ice fractures (leads), as the dominant aerosol source in the coastal Alaskan Arctic during winter, highlighting the year-round nature of Arctic SSA emissions. Nearly all of the individual SSA featured thick organic coatings, consisting of marine saccharides, amino acids, fatty acids, and divalent cations, consistent with exopolymeric secretions produced as cryoprotectants by sea ice algae and bacteria. In contrast, local summertime SSA lacked these organic carbon coatings, or featured thin coatings, with only open water nearby. The individual SSA composition was not consistent with frost flowers or surface snow above sea ice, suggesting that neither hypothesized frost flower aerosolization nor blowing snow sublimation resulted in the observed SSA. These results further demonstrate the need for inclusion of lead-based SSA production in modeling of Arctic atmospheric composition. The identified connections between changing sea ice, microbiology, and SSA point to the significance of sea ice lead biogeochemistry in altering Arctic atmospheric composition, clouds, and climate feedbacks during winter.
Project description:Over the past decades, the Arctic has been warming more than any other region in the world with profound socio-economic consequences. One of the key elements for understanding this rapid climate change is the surface energy budget. However, in the Arctic this budget is not consistently described across the various climate models, reanalyses and observation products. Recognising the physical causes of these inconsistencies is highly relevant for improving climate predictions and projections. Here we show that a 5 to 10?°C warm bias of the sea-ice surface temperature in global atmospheric reanalyses and weather forecasts is mainly caused by a missing representation of the snow layer on top of the sea-ice. Due to the low thermal conductivity of snow compared to sea-ice, a thin snow layer reduces the conductive heat flux much more efficiently than sea-ice, and thus insulates the cold atmosphere from the relatively warm ocean.
Project description:Despite the growth in knowledge about the effects of a warming Arctic on its cold-adapted species, the mechanisms by which these changes affect animal populations remain poorly understood. Increasing temperatures, declining sea ice and altered wind and precipitation patterns all may affect the fitness and abundance of species through multiple direct and indirect pathways. Here we demonstrate previously unknown effects of rain-on-snow (ROS) events, winter precipitation, and ice tidal surges on the Arctic's largest land mammal. Using novel field data across seven years and three Alaskan and Russian sites, we show arrested skeletal growth in juvenile muskoxen resulting from unusually dry winter conditions and gestational ROS events, with the inhibitory effects on growth from ROS events lasting up to three years post-partum. Further, we describe the simultaneous entombment of 52 muskoxen in ice during a Chukchi Sea winter tsunami (ivuniq in Iñupiat), and link rapid freezing to entrapment of Arctic whales and otters. Our results illustrate how once unusual, but increasingly frequent Arctic weather events affect some cold-adapted mammals, and suggest that an understanding of species responses to a changing Arctic can be enhanced by coalescing groundwork, rare events, and insights from local people.
Project description:Coinciding with global warming, Arctic sea ice has rapidly decreased during the last four decades and climate scenarios suggest that sea ice may completely disappear during summer within the next about 50-100 years. Here we produce Arctic sea ice biomarker proxy records for the penultimate glacial (Marine Isotope Stage 6) and the subsequent last interglacial (Marine Isotope Stage 5e). The latter is a time interval when the high latitudes were significantly warmer than today. We document that even under such warmer climate conditions, sea ice existed in the central Arctic Ocean during summer, whereas sea ice was significantly reduced along the Barents Sea continental margin influenced by Atlantic Water inflow. Our proxy reconstruction of the last interglacial sea ice cover is supported by climate simulations, although some proxy data/model inconsistencies still exist. During late Marine Isotope Stage 6, polynya-type conditions occurred off the major ice sheets along the northern Barents and East Siberian continental margins, contradicting a giant Marine Isotope Stage 6 ice shelf that covered the entire Arctic Ocean.Coinciding with global warming, Arctic sea ice has rapidly decreased during the last four decades. Here, using biomarker records, the authors show that permanent sea ice was still present in the central Arctic Ocean during the last interglacial, when high latitudes were warmer than present.
Project description:Various observation- and reanalysis-based estimates of sea ice mass and ocean heat content trends imply that the energy imbalance of the Arctic climate system was similar [1.0 (0.9,1.2) Wm-2] to the global ocean average during the 2000-2015 period. Most of this extra heat warmed the ocean, and a comparatively small fraction went into sea ice melt. Poleward energy transports and radiation contributed to this energy increase at varying strengths. On a seasonal scale, stronger radiative energy input during summer associated with the ice-albedo feedback enhances seasonal oceanic heat uptake and sea ice melt. In return, lower sea ice extent and higher sea surface temperatures lead to enhanced heat release from the ocean during fall. This weakens meridional temperature gradients, consequently reducing atmospheric energy transports into the polar cap. The seasonal cycle of the Arctic energy budget is thus amplified, whereas the Arctic's long-term energy imbalance is close to the global mean.