04 Oct 2022
04 Oct 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

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

Amelie U. Schmitt1 and Christof Lüpkes2 Amelie U. Schmitt and Christof Lüpkes
  • 1Meteorological Institute, Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN), Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
  • 2Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany

Abstract. Arctic sea ice has declined in all seasons accompanied by a 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 for the winters 1992 to 2022 are used for the analyses. To disentangle the impact of the upstream sea ice conditions from other factors influencing atmospheric conditions, separate calculations are applied for on-ice and off-ice flow. During off-ice flow, temperatures increased by more than 9 K within 31 years in the Western Nansen Basin (WNB) and by about 5 K in the Greenland Sea region (GRL). Humidity also increased significantly in both regions but with smaller trends in the GRL region. Trends for wind speed were mostly not significant.

Corresponding trends of winter sea ice concentrations based on SSM/I-ASI data show a decrease of -10 % dec−1 in the WNB region with especially large open water areas in 2022. There are clear hints that sea ice variability in the GRL region is strongly influenced by the presence of the Odden ice tongue and thus it shows a decrease of -4.7 % dec−1. For off-ice flow, upstream sea ice conditions in the Fram Strait region influence atmospheric temperatures and humidity up to 500 km downstream of the ice edge. Up to two thirds of the observed temperature variability in both regions can be explained by upstream sea ice variability, which is about 10 % more than for all other wind directions.

Amelie U. Schmitt and Christof Lüpkes

Status: open (extended)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on tc-2022-185', Anonymous Referee #1, 15 Nov 2022 reply

Amelie U. Schmitt and Christof Lüpkes

Amelie U. Schmitt and Christof Lüpkes


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Short summary
In the last decades, the region between Greenland and Svalbard has experienced the largest loss of Arctic sea ice in winter. We analyze how changes in air temperature, humidity and wind in this region are related to sea ice changes, looking especially at cases where winds originate from sea ice covered areas. The largest impacts are found for temperature close to the ice edge and up to a distance of 500 km. Up to two thirds of the observed temperature variability is related to sea ice changes.