Linking Arctic amplification and local feedbacks



Climate simulations show that as the Earth warms, the Arctic warms more than the average global warming. However, models differ on how much more the Arctic warms, and although scientists have proposed a variety of mechanisms to explain the Arctic warming amplification, there is no consensus on the main reasons for it. To shed light on this issue, Hwang et al. investigated the relationship between Arctic amplification and poleward energy transport and local Arctic feedbacks, such as changes in cloud cover or ice loss, across a group of models. The researchers noted that differences in atmospheric energy transport did not explain the ranges of polar amplification; rather, models with more amplification showed less energy transport into high latitudes. The authors found that decreasing energy transport is due to a coupled relationship between Arctic amplification and energy transport: Arctic amplification reduces the equator-to-pole temperature gradient, which strongly decreases energy transport. They suggest that this coupled relationship should be taken into account in studies of Arctic amplification. (Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2011GL048546, 2011)