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Warm winds from the Pacific caused extensive Arctic sea-ice melt in summer 2007

Warm winds from the Pacific caused extensive Arctic sea-ice melt in summer 2007
Warm winds from the Pacific caused extensive Arctic sea-ice melt in summer 2007
During summer 2007 the Arctic sea-ice shrank to the lowest extent ever observed. The role of the atmospheric energy transport in this extreme melt event is explored using the state-of-the-art ERA-Interim reanalysis data. We find that in summer 2007 there was an anomalous atmospheric flow of warm and humid air into the region that suffered severe melt. This anomaly was larger than during any other year in the data (1989–2008). Convergence of the atmospheric energy transport over this area led to positive anomalies of the downward longwave radiation and turbulent fluxes. In the region that experienced unusual ice melt, the net anomaly of the surface fluxes provided enough extra energy to melt roughly one meter of ice during the melting season. When the ocean successively became ice-free, the surface-albedo decreased causing additional absorption of shortwave radiation, despite the fact that the downwelling solar radiation was smaller than average. We argue that the positive anomalies of net downward longwave radiation and turbulent fluxes played a key role in initiating the 2007 extreme ice melt, whereas the shortwave-radiation changes acted as an amplifying feedback mechanism in response to the melt.
arctic, sea ice, energy transport, greenhouse effect, surface-albedo feedback
0930-7575
2103-2112
Graversen, Rune G.
075a8c4c-fa65-4175-9d8d-26ce17f2f1dc
Mauritsen, Thorsten
2b419407-858a-4975-bf23-07e34c800b3e
Drijfhout, Sybren
a5c76079-179b-490c-93fe-fc0391aacf13
Tjernström, Michael
e87efaae-d618-46bd-a998-efc2b0afb3bc
Mårtensson, Sebastian
1e3638af-8e3d-4a2b-86f6-1502e40a209a
Graversen, Rune G.
075a8c4c-fa65-4175-9d8d-26ce17f2f1dc
Mauritsen, Thorsten
2b419407-858a-4975-bf23-07e34c800b3e
Drijfhout, Sybren
a5c76079-179b-490c-93fe-fc0391aacf13
Tjernström, Michael
e87efaae-d618-46bd-a998-efc2b0afb3bc
Mårtensson, Sebastian
1e3638af-8e3d-4a2b-86f6-1502e40a209a

Graversen, Rune G., Mauritsen, Thorsten, Drijfhout, Sybren, Tjernström, Michael and Mårtensson, Sebastian (2011) Warm winds from the Pacific caused extensive Arctic sea-ice melt in summer 2007. Climate Dynamics, 36 (11-12), 2103-2112. (doi:10.1007/s00382-010-0809-z).

Record type: Article

Abstract

During summer 2007 the Arctic sea-ice shrank to the lowest extent ever observed. The role of the atmospheric energy transport in this extreme melt event is explored using the state-of-the-art ERA-Interim reanalysis data. We find that in summer 2007 there was an anomalous atmospheric flow of warm and humid air into the region that suffered severe melt. This anomaly was larger than during any other year in the data (1989–2008). Convergence of the atmospheric energy transport over this area led to positive anomalies of the downward longwave radiation and turbulent fluxes. In the region that experienced unusual ice melt, the net anomaly of the surface fluxes provided enough extra energy to melt roughly one meter of ice during the melting season. When the ocean successively became ice-free, the surface-albedo decreased causing additional absorption of shortwave radiation, despite the fact that the downwelling solar radiation was smaller than average. We argue that the positive anomalies of net downward longwave radiation and turbulent fluxes played a key role in initiating the 2007 extreme ice melt, whereas the shortwave-radiation changes acted as an amplifying feedback mechanism in response to the melt.

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More information

Published date: June 2011
Keywords: arctic, sea ice, energy transport, greenhouse effect, surface-albedo feedback
Organisations: Ocean and Earth Science

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 348353
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/348353
ISSN: 0930-7575
PURE UUID: d1e8000b-4bee-4cc8-ae9c-57e1aed3f66f

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Date deposited: 12 Feb 2013 12:34
Last modified: 16 Jul 2019 21:43

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Author: Rune G. Graversen
Author: Thorsten Mauritsen
Author: Michael Tjernström
Author: Sebastian Mårtensson

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