Sea ice thickness and recent Arctic warming

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Abstract

The climatic impact of increased Arctic sea ice loss has received growing attention in the last years. However, little focus has been set on the role of sea ice thickness, although it strongly determines surface heat fluxes. Here ensembles of simulations using the EC-Earth atmospheric model (Integrated Forecast System) are performed and analyzed to quantify the atmospheric impacts of Arctic sea ice thickness change since 1982 as revealed by the sea ice model assimilation Global Ice-Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System. Results show that the recent sea ice thinning has significantly affected the Arctic climate, while remote atmospheric responses are less pronounced owing to a high internal atmospheric variability. Locally, the sea ice thinning results in enhancement of near-surface warming of about 1°C per decade in winter, which is most pronounced over marginal sea ice areas with thin ice. This leads to an increase of the Arctic amplification factor by 37%.

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