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Geophysical Research Letters

Observed variations in multidecadal Antarctic sea ice trends during 1979–2012

Authors

  • Graham R. Simpkins,

    Corresponding author
    1. Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    2. ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    • Corresponding author: G. R. Simpkins, Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia. (g.simpkins@unsw.edu.au)

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  • Laura M. Ciasto,

    1. Geophysical Institute, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
    2. Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
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  • Matthew H. England

    1. Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    2. ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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Abstract

[1] The spatiotemporal sensitivity of Antarctic sea ice season length trends are examined using satellite-derived observations over 1979–2012. While the large-scale spatial structure of multidecadal trends has varied little during the satellite record, the magnitude of trends has undergone substantial weakening over the past decade. This weakening is particularly evident in the Ross and Bellingshausen Seas, where a ∼25–50% reduction is observed when comparing trends calculated over 1979–2012 and 1979–1999. Multidecadal trends in the Bellingshausen Sea are found to be dominated by variability over subdecadal time scales, particularly the rapid decline in season length observed between 1979 and 1989. In fact, virtually no trend is detectable when the first decade is excluded from trend calculations. In contrast, the sea ice expansion in the Ross Sea is less influenced by shorter-term variability, with trends shown to be more consistent at decadal time scales and beyond. Understanding these contrasting characteristics have implications for sea ice trend attribution.

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