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The Arctic sea ice thickness record minimum is confirmed occurring in autumn 2011. The dynamic and thermodynamic processes leading to the minimum thickness is analyzed based on a daily sea ice thickness reanalysis data covering the melting season. The results demonstrate that the dynamic transport of multiyear ice and the subsequent surface energy budget response is a critical mechanism actively contributing to the evolution of Arctic sea ice thickness in 2011.
Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-359
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-359

  14 Jan 2021

14 Jan 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

On the 2011 record low Arctic sea ice thickness: a combination of dynamic and thermodynamic anomalies

Xuewei Li1, Qinghua Yang1, Lejiang Yu2, Paul R. Holland3, Chao Min1, Longjiang Mu4, and Dake Chen1 Xuewei Li et al.
  • 1School of Atmospheric Sciences, Sun Yat-sen University, and Southern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory (Zhuhai), Zhuhai 519082, China
  • 2MNR Key Laboratory for Polar Science, Polar Research Institute of China, Shanghai 200136, China
  • 3British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge CB3 0ET, United Kingdom
  • 4Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, Qingdao 266237, China

Abstract. The sea ice thickness is recognized as an early indicator of climate changes. The mean Arctic sea ice thickness has been declining for the past four decades, and a sea ice thickness record minimum is confirmed occurring in autumn 2011. We used a daily sea ice thickness reanalysis data covering the melting season to investigate the dynamic and thermodynamic processes leading to the minimum thickness. Ice thickness budget analysis demonstrates that the ice thickness loss is associated with an extraordinarily large amount of multiyear ice volume export through the Fram Strait during the season of sea ice advance. Due to the loss of multiyear ice, the Arctic ice thickness becomes more sensitive to atmospheric anomalies. The positive net surface energy flux anomalies melt roughly 0.22 m of ice more than usual from June to August. An analysis of clouds and radiative fluxes from ERA5 reanalysis data reveals that the increased net surface energy absorption supports the enhanced sea ice melt. The enhanced cloudiness led to positive anomalies of net long-wave radiation. Furthermore, the enhanced sea ice melt reduces the surface albedo, triggering an ice–albedo amplifying feedback and contributing to the accelerating loss of multiyear ice. The results demonstrate that the dynamic transport of multiyear ice and the subsequent surface energy budget response is a critical mechanism actively contributing to the evolution of Arctic sea ice thickness.

Xuewei Li et al.

Status: open (until 11 Mar 2021)

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Xuewei Li et al.

Xuewei Li et al.

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Short summary
The Arctic sea ice thickness record minimum is confirmed occurring in autumn 2011. The dynamic and thermodynamic processes leading to the minimum thickness is analyzed based on a daily sea ice thickness reanalysis data covering the melting season. The results demonstrate that the dynamic transport of multiyear ice and the subsequent surface energy budget response is a critical mechanism actively contributing to the evolution of Arctic sea ice thickness in 2011.
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