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Keywords:

  • sea ice;
  • ice albedo feedback;
  • solar heating

[1] Over the past few decades the Arctic sea ice cover has decreased in areal extent. This has altered the solar radiation forcing on the Arctic atmosphere-ice-ocean system by decreasing the surface albedo and allowing more solar heating of the upper ocean. This study addresses how the amount of solar energy absorbed in areas of open water in the Arctic Basin has varied spatially and temporally over the past few decades. A synthetic approach was taken, combining satellite-derived ice concentrations, incident irradiances determined from reanalysis products, and field observations of ocean albedo over the Arctic Ocean and the adjacent seas. Results indicate an increase in the solar energy deposited in the upper ocean over the past few decades in 89% of the region studied. The largest increases in total yearly solar heat input, as much as 4% per year, occurred in the Chukchi Sea and adjacent areas.