Over the past decades, Arctic climate has exhibited significant changes characterized by strong pan-Arctic warming and a large-scale wind shift trending toward an anticyclonic anomaly centered over Greenland and the Arctic Ocean. Recent work has suggested that this wind change is able to warm the Arctic atmosphere and melt sea ice through dynamically driven warming, moistening, and ice drift effects. However, previous examination of this linkage lacks a capability to fully consider the complex nature of the sea ice response to the wind change. In this study, we perform a more rigorous test of this idea by using a coupled high-resolution modeling framework with observed winds nudged over the Arctic that allows for a comparison of these wind-induced effects with observations and simulated effects forced by anthropogenic forcing. Our nudging simulation can well capture observed variability of atmospheric temperature, sea ice, and the radiation balance during the Arctic summer and appears to simulate around 30% of Arctic warming and sea ice melting over the whole period (1979–2020) and more than 50% over the period 2000–12, which is the fastest Arctic warming decade in the satellite era. In particular, in the summer of 2020, a similar wind pattern reemerged to induce the second-lowest sea ice extent since 1979, suggesting that large-scale wind changes in the Arctic are essential in shaping Arctic climate on interannual and interdecadal time scales and may be critical to determine Arctic climate variability in the coming decades.
This work conducts a set of new CESM1 nudging simulations to quantify the impact of the observed evolution of large-scale high-latitude atmospheric winds on Arctic climate variability over the past four decades. Variations in climate parameters, including sea ice, radiation, and atmospheric temperatures are well replicated in the model when observed winds are imposed in the Arctic. By investigating simulated sea ice melting processes in the simulation, we illustrate and estimate how large-scale winds in the Arctic help melt sea ice in summer. The nudging method has the potential to make Arctic climate attribution more tangible and to unravel the important physical processes underlying recent abrupt climate change in the Arctic.
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