Sea ice drift in the Arctic since the 1950s



[1] Sea ice drift data (from Russian North Pole stations, various ice camps, and the International Arctic Buoy Program) and surface wind stress data from the NCAR/NCEP Reanalysis are analyzed to determine their long-term trends and causality. The study finds that both parameters (ice drift and wind stress) show gradual acceleration over last 50 years. Significant positive trends are present in both winter and summer data. The major cause of observed positive trends is increasing Arctic storm activity over the Transpolar Drift Stream caused by a shift of storm tracks toward higher latitudes. It is speculated, with some observational evidence, that the increased stirring of the ocean by winds could hasten the transition of the Arctic toward a weakly stratified ocean with a potential for deep convection and a new sink for atmospheric CO2.