• sea ice variability;
  • Nordic Seas;
  • predictability;
  • Atlantic water

[1] A strong control of sea ice area (SIA) in the Nordic Seas in the period 1982–2006 by oceanic heat variability is reported. In particular, variability of summer Atlantic water temperature in the Barents Sea Opening explains about 75% of the variance of the following winter SIA anomalies which opens prospects for seasonal predictability of regional sea ice cover. A strong link of winter SIA anomalies to variability in the previous spring sea surface temperature on the western (Greenland Sea) and eastern (Barents Sea) sides of the Nordic Seas indicates that the oceanic control of sea ice cover in these areas mainly results from postsummer surface reemergence of oceanic heat anomalies generated by earlier atmospheric forcing. In particular, late winter North Atlantic Oscillation and anomalous winds across the Barents Sea ice edge significantly influence next winter sea ice cover on the western and eastern sides of the Nordic Seas, respectively.