Large-Scale Climate Modes Drive Low-Frequency Regional Arctic Sea Ice Variability

Christopher Wyburn-Powell aDepartment of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, and Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado

Search for other papers by Christopher Wyburn-Powell in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
and
Alexandra Jahn aDepartment of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, and Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado

Search for other papers by Alexandra Jahn in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
Restricted access

Abstract

Summer Arctic sea ice is declining rapidly but with superimposed variability on multiple timescales that introduces large uncertainties into projections of future sea ice loss. To better understand what drives at least part of this variability, we show how a simple linear model can link dominant modes of climate variability to low-frequency regional Arctic sea ice concentration (SIC) anomalies. Focusing on September, we find skillful projections from global climate models (GCMs) from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) at lead times of 4-20 years, with up to 60% of observed low-frequency variability explained at a 5-year lead time. The dominant driver of low-frequency SIC variability is the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) which is positively correlated with SIC anomalies in all regions up to a lead time of 15 years, but with large uncertainty between GCMs and internal variability realization. The Niño 3.4 Index and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation have better agreement between GCMs of being positively and negatively related, respectively, with low-frequency SIC anomalies for at least 10-year lead times. The large variation between GCMs and between members within large ensembles indicate the diverse simulation of teleconnections between the tropics and Arctic sea ice, and the dependence on initial climate state. Further, the influence of the Niño 3.4 Index was found to be sensitive to the background climate. Our results suggest that, based on the 2022 phases of dominant climate variability modes, enhanced loss of sea ice area across the Arctic is likely during the next decade.

© 2024 American Meteorological Society. This is an Author Accepted Manuscript distributed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: C Wyburn-Powell, chwy8767@colorado.edu

Abstract

Summer Arctic sea ice is declining rapidly but with superimposed variability on multiple timescales that introduces large uncertainties into projections of future sea ice loss. To better understand what drives at least part of this variability, we show how a simple linear model can link dominant modes of climate variability to low-frequency regional Arctic sea ice concentration (SIC) anomalies. Focusing on September, we find skillful projections from global climate models (GCMs) from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) at lead times of 4-20 years, with up to 60% of observed low-frequency variability explained at a 5-year lead time. The dominant driver of low-frequency SIC variability is the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) which is positively correlated with SIC anomalies in all regions up to a lead time of 15 years, but with large uncertainty between GCMs and internal variability realization. The Niño 3.4 Index and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation have better agreement between GCMs of being positively and negatively related, respectively, with low-frequency SIC anomalies for at least 10-year lead times. The large variation between GCMs and between members within large ensembles indicate the diverse simulation of teleconnections between the tropics and Arctic sea ice, and the dependence on initial climate state. Further, the influence of the Niño 3.4 Index was found to be sensitive to the background climate. Our results suggest that, based on the 2022 phases of dominant climate variability modes, enhanced loss of sea ice area across the Arctic is likely during the next decade.

© 2024 American Meteorological Society. This is an Author Accepted Manuscript distributed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: C Wyburn-Powell, chwy8767@colorado.edu
Save