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A Five-Year Record of Summer Melt on Eurasian Arctic Ice Caps

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  • 1 Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • | 2 Climate Research Division, Atmospheric Science and Technology Directorate, Environment Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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Abstract

Climatologies and annual anomaly patterns (2000–04) of melt season duration and dates of melt onset/freeze-up on Eurasian Arctic ice masses were derived from Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) backscatter data. Severnaya Zemlya, Russia, has later melt onset, earlier freeze-up, and shorter melt seasons than Svalbard, Norway/Novaya Zemlya, Russia. In all three archipelagos 2001 was the longest melt season and 2000 was the shortest. Anomalously long (short) melt seasons on Svalbard were associated with negative (positive) sea ice concentration anomalies along the north coast in June and August. Annual mean melt duration was strongly correlated with the mean (June + August) NCEP–NCAR reanalysis 850-hPa air temperature, allowing reconstruction of melt durations for the period of 1948–2005. The 2000–04 pentad had the second or third longest mean melt duration of all pentads in the 1950–2004 epoch, while the 1950–54 pentad probably had the longest. Integration of these results with previous results from Greenland and the Canadian Arctic identifies 2002 as the longest melt season in the 2000–04 period across the Arctic as a whole, and 2001 as the shortest. Correlation of melt duration anomalies for 19 discrete regions identifies seven spatially coherent areas of the Arctic with common patterns of variability in annual melt duration.

Corresponding author address: Martin Sharp, Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, 1-26 Earth Sciences Building, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E3, Canada. Email: martin.sharp@ualberta.ca

This article included in the Polar Climate Stability special collection.

Abstract

Climatologies and annual anomaly patterns (2000–04) of melt season duration and dates of melt onset/freeze-up on Eurasian Arctic ice masses were derived from Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) backscatter data. Severnaya Zemlya, Russia, has later melt onset, earlier freeze-up, and shorter melt seasons than Svalbard, Norway/Novaya Zemlya, Russia. In all three archipelagos 2001 was the longest melt season and 2000 was the shortest. Anomalously long (short) melt seasons on Svalbard were associated with negative (positive) sea ice concentration anomalies along the north coast in June and August. Annual mean melt duration was strongly correlated with the mean (June + August) NCEP–NCAR reanalysis 850-hPa air temperature, allowing reconstruction of melt durations for the period of 1948–2005. The 2000–04 pentad had the second or third longest mean melt duration of all pentads in the 1950–2004 epoch, while the 1950–54 pentad probably had the longest. Integration of these results with previous results from Greenland and the Canadian Arctic identifies 2002 as the longest melt season in the 2000–04 period across the Arctic as a whole, and 2001 as the shortest. Correlation of melt duration anomalies for 19 discrete regions identifies seven spatially coherent areas of the Arctic with common patterns of variability in annual melt duration.

Corresponding author address: Martin Sharp, Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, 1-26 Earth Sciences Building, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E3, Canada. Email: martin.sharp@ualberta.ca

This article included in the Polar Climate Stability special collection.

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