Summer minimum Arctic sea ice extent and the associated summer atmospheric circulation



[1] Interrelationships between year-to-year variations in September Arctic sea ice extent and summer sea level pressure and surface air temperature at high northern latitudes are examined making use of microwave satellite imagery and atmospheric data for the period 1979–2006. Linear trends and year-to-year variability about the linear trend lines are considered separately: the latter gives a clearer indication of the physical linkages between fields. Years with low September sea ice extent tend to be characterized by anticyclonic circulation anomalies over the Arctic, with easterly wind anomalies over the marginal seas where the year-to-year variability of sea ice concentration is largest. It is hypothesized that the summer circulation anomalies cause sea ice extent principally by way of the Ekman drift in the marginal seas. The associated surface air temperature anomalies also tend to be largest over the marginal seas, with positive anomalies over the regions of reduced sea ice.