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Igor V. Polyakov, Tom P. Rippeth, Ilker Fer, Matthew B. Alkire, Till M. Baumann, Eddy C. Carmack, Randi Ingvaldsen, Vladimir V. Ivanov, Markus Janout, Sigrid Lind, Laurie Padman, Andrey V. Pnyushkov, and Robert Rember


A 15-yr duration record of mooring observations from the eastern (>70°E) Eurasian Basin (EB) of the Arctic Ocean is used to show and quantify the recently increased oceanic heat flux from intermediate-depth (~150–900 m) warm Atlantic Water (AW) to the surface mixed layer and sea ice. The upward release of AW heat is regulated by the stability of the overlying halocline, which we show has weakened substantially in recent years. Shoaling of the AW has also contributed, with observations in winter 2017–18 showing AW at only 80 m depth, just below the wintertime surface mixed layer, the shallowest in our mooring records. The weakening of the halocline for several months at this time implies that AW heat was linked to winter convection associated with brine rejection during sea ice formation. This resulted in a substantial increase of upward oceanic heat flux during the winter season, from an average of 3–4 W m−2 in 2007–08 to >10 W m−2 in 2016–18. This seasonal AW heat loss in the eastern EB is equivalent to a more than a twofold reduction of winter ice growth. These changes imply a positive feedback as reduced sea ice cover permits increased mixing, augmenting the summer-dominated ice-albedo feedback.

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Igor V. Polyakov, Vladimir A. Alexeev, Igor M. Ashik, Sheldon Bacon, Agnieszka Beszczynska-Möller, Eddy C. Carmack, Igor A. Dmitrenko, Louis Fortier, Jean-Claude Gascard, Edmond Hansen, Jens Hölemann, Vladimir V. Ivanov, Takashi Kikuchi, Sergey Kirillov, Yueng-Djern Lenn, Fiona A. McLaughlin, Jan Piechura, Irina Repina, Leonid A. Timokhov, Waldemar Walczowski, and Rebecca Woodgate

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Igor V. Polyakov, Leonid A. Timokhov, Vladimir A. Alexeev, Sheldon Bacon, Igor A. Dmitrenko, Louis Fortier, Ivan E. Frolov, Jean-Claude Gascard, Edmond Hansen, Vladimir V. Ivanov, Seymour Laxon, Cecilie Mauritzen, Don Perovich, Koji Shimada, Harper L. Simmons, Vladimir T. Sokolov, Michael Steele, and John Toole


Analysis of modern and historical observations demonstrates that the temperature of the intermediate-depth (150–900 m) Atlantic water (AW) of the Arctic Ocean has increased in recent decades. The AW warming has been uneven in time; a local ∼1°C maximum was observed in the mid-1990s, followed by an intervening minimum and an additional warming that culminated in 2007 with temperatures higher than in the 1990s by 0.24°C. Relative to climatology from all data prior to 1999, the most extreme 2007 temperature anomalies of up to 1°C and higher were observed in the Eurasian and Makarov Basins. The AW warming was associated with a substantial (up to 75–90 m) shoaling of the upper AW boundary in the central Arctic Ocean and weakening of the Eurasian Basin upper-ocean stratification. Taken together, these observations suggest that the changes in the Eurasian Basin facilitated greater upward transfer of AW heat to the ocean surface layer. Available limited observations and results from a 1D ocean column model support this surmised upward spread of AW heat through the Eurasian Basin halocline. Experiments with a 3D coupled ice–ocean model in turn suggest a loss of 28–35 cm of ice thickness after ∼50 yr in response to the 0.5 W m−2 increase in AW ocean heat flux suggested by the 1D model. This amount of thinning is comparable to the 29 cm of ice thickness loss due to local atmospheric thermodynamic forcing estimated from observations of fast-ice thickness decline. The implication is that AW warming helped precondition the polar ice cap for the extreme ice loss observed in recent years.

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