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https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-214
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-214
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  28 Aug 2020

28 Aug 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Trends and spatial variation in rain-on-snow events over the Arctic Ocean during the early melt season

Tingfeng Dou1, Cunde Xiao2, Jiping Liu3, Qiang Wang4, Shifeng Pan5, Jie Su6, Xiaojun Yuan7, Minghu Ding8, Feng Zhang5, Kai Xue1, Peter A. Bieniek9, and Hajo Eicken9 Tingfeng Dou et al.
  • 1College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 5 100049, China
  • 2State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
  • 3Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, NY, USA
  • 4Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 5College of atmospheric science, Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology, Nanjing 210044, China
  • 6Physical Oceanography Laboratory, Ocean University of China, 238 Songling Road, Qingdao 266100, China
  • 7Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, 61 Route 9W, Palisades, NY 10964, USA
  • 8Institute of Tibetan Plateau and Polar Meteorology, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing 100081, China
  • 9International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7340, USA

Abstract. Rain-on-snow (ROS) events can accelerate the surface ablation of sea ice, thus greatly influencing the ice-albedo feedback. However, the variability of ROS events over the Arctic Ocean is poorly understood due to limited historical station data in this region. In this study early melt season ROS events were investigated based on four widely-used reanalysis products (ERA-Interim, JRA-55, MERRA2 and ERA5) in conjunction with available observations at Arctic coastal stations. The performance of the reanalysis products in representing the timing of ROS events and the phase change of precipitation was assessed. Our results show that ERA-Interim better represents the onset date of ROS events in spring and ERA5 better represents the phase change of precipitation associated with ROS events. All reanalyses indicate that ROS event timing has shifted to earlier dates in recent decades (with maximum trends up to −4 to −6 days/decade in some regions in ERA-Interim), and that sea ice melt onset in the Pacific sector and most of the Eurasian marginal seas is correlated with this shift. There has been a clear transition from solid to liquid precipitation, leading to more ROS events in spring, although large discrepancies were found between different reanalysis products. In ERA5, the shift from solid to liquid precipitation phase during the early melt season has directly contributed to a reduction in spring snow depth on sea ice by more than −0.5 cm/decade averaged over the Arctic Ocean since 1980, with the largest contribution (about −2.0 cm/decade) in the Kara-Barents Seas and Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

Tingfeng Dou et al.

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Data sets

ERA-Interim Reanalysis European Centre https://doi.org/10.5065/D6CR5RD9

ERA5 Reanalysis European Centre https://doi.org/10.5065/D6X34W69

Modern-Era Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications, Version 2 NASA https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-16-0758

JRA-55 Japan Meteorological Agency https://doi.org/10.5065/D6HH6H41

Tingfeng Dou et al.

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Short summary
Rain-on-snow (ROS) events can accelerate the surface ablation of sea ice, thus greatly influencing the ice-albedo feedback. We found that the spring ROS event has shifted to earlier dates over the Arctic Ocean in recent decades, which is correlated with sea ice melt onset in the Pacific sector and most of the Eurasian marginal seas. There has been a clear transition from solid to liquid precipitation, leading to a reduction in spring snow depth on sea ice by more than −0.5 cm/decade since 1980s.
Rain-on-snow (ROS) events can accelerate the surface ablation of sea ice, thus greatly...
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