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Keywords:

  • Arctic sea ice extent;
  • Arctic climate;
  • summer in 2007

[1] The unprecedented retreat of first-year ice during summer 2007 was enhanced by strong poleward drift over the western Arctic induced by anomalously high sea-level pressure (SLP) over the Beaufort Sea that persisted throughout much of the summer. Comparison of the tracks of drifting buoys with monthly mean SLP charts shows a substantial Ekman drift. By means of linear regression analysis it is shown that Ekman drift during summer has played an important role in regulating annual minimum Arctic sea-ice extent in prior years as well. In combination, the preconditioning by events in prior years, as represented by an index of May multi-year ice, and current atmospheric conditions, as represented by an index of July–August–September SLP anomalies over the Arctic basin account for ∼60% of the year-to-year variance of September sea-ice extent since 1979.