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A. Rinke
B. Segger
S. Crewell
M. Maturilli
T. Naakka
T. Nygård
T. Vihma
F. Alshawaf
G. Dick
J. Wickert
, and
J. Keller


Arctic trends of integrated water vapor were analyzed based on four reanalyses and radiosonde data over 1979–2016. Averaged over the region north of 70°N, the Arctic experiences a robust moistening trend that is smallest in March (0.07 ± 0.06 mm decade−1) and largest in August (0.33 ± 0.18 mm decade−1), according to the reanalyses’ median and over the 38 years. While the absolute trends are largest in summer, the relative ones are largest in winter. Superimposed on the trend is a pronounced interannual variability. Analyzing overlapping 30-yr subsets of the entire period, the maximum trend has shifted toward autumn (September–October), which is related to an accelerated trend over the Barents and Kara Seas. The spatial trend patterns suggest that the Arctic has become wetter overall, but the trends and their statistical significance vary depending on the region and season, and drying even occurs over a few regions. Although the reanalyses are consistent in their spatiotemporal trend patterns, they substantially disagree on the trend magnitudes. The summer and the Nordic and Barents Seas, the central Arctic Ocean, and north-central Siberia are the season and regions of greatest differences among the reanalyses. We discussed various factors that contribute to the differences, in particular, varying sea level pressure trends, which lead to regional differences in moisture transport, evaporation trends, and differences in data assimilation. The trends from the reanalyses show a close agreement with the radiosonde data in terms of spatiotemporal patterns. However, the scarce and nonuniform distribution of the stations hampers the assessment of central Arctic trends.

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