Arctic Surface, Cloud, and Radiation Properties Based on the AVHRR Polar Pathfinder Dataset. Part II: Recent Trends

Xuanji Wang Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, Wisconsin

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Jeffrey R. Key Office of Research and Applications, NOAA/NESDIS, Madison, Wisconsin

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Abstract

Over the past 20 yr, some Arctic surface and cloud properties have changed significantly. Results of an analysis of satellite data show that the Arctic has warmed and become cloudier in spring and summer but has cooled and become less cloudy in winter. The annual rate of surface temperature change is 0.057°C for the Arctic region north of 60°N. The surface broadband albedo has decreased significantly in autumn, especially over the Arctic Ocean, indicating a later freeze-up and snowfall. The surface albedo has decreased at an annual rate of −0.15% (absolute). Cloud fraction has decreased at an annual rate of −0.6% (absolute) in winter and increased at annual rates of 0.32% and 0.16% in spring and summer, respectively. On an annual time scale, there is no trend in cloud fraction. During spring and summer, changes in sea ice albedo that result from surface warming tend to modulate the radiative effect of increasing cloud cover. On an annual time scale, the all-wave cloud forcing at the surface has decreased at an annual rate of –0.335 W m−2, indicating an increased cooling by clouds. There are large correlations between surface temperature anomalies and climate indices such as the Arctic Oscillation (AO) index for some areas, implying linkages between global climate change and Arctic climate change.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Xuanji Wang, Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, University of Wisconsin—Madison, 1225 West Dayton Street, Madison, WI 53706. Email: xuanjiw@ssec.wisc.edu

Abstract

Over the past 20 yr, some Arctic surface and cloud properties have changed significantly. Results of an analysis of satellite data show that the Arctic has warmed and become cloudier in spring and summer but has cooled and become less cloudy in winter. The annual rate of surface temperature change is 0.057°C for the Arctic region north of 60°N. The surface broadband albedo has decreased significantly in autumn, especially over the Arctic Ocean, indicating a later freeze-up and snowfall. The surface albedo has decreased at an annual rate of −0.15% (absolute). Cloud fraction has decreased at an annual rate of −0.6% (absolute) in winter and increased at annual rates of 0.32% and 0.16% in spring and summer, respectively. On an annual time scale, there is no trend in cloud fraction. During spring and summer, changes in sea ice albedo that result from surface warming tend to modulate the radiative effect of increasing cloud cover. On an annual time scale, the all-wave cloud forcing at the surface has decreased at an annual rate of –0.335 W m−2, indicating an increased cooling by clouds. There are large correlations between surface temperature anomalies and climate indices such as the Arctic Oscillation (AO) index for some areas, implying linkages between global climate change and Arctic climate change.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Xuanji Wang, Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, University of Wisconsin—Madison, 1225 West Dayton Street, Madison, WI 53706. Email: xuanjiw@ssec.wisc.edu

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