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Qingxiang Liu, Alexander V. Babanin, Stefan Zieger, Ian R. Young, and Changlong Guan

Abstract

Twenty years (1996–2015) of satellite observations were used to study the climatology and trends of oceanic winds and waves in the Arctic Ocean in the summer season (August–September). The Atlantic-side seas, exposed to the open ocean, host more energetic waves than those on the Pacific side. Trend analysis shows a clear spatial (regional) and temporal (interannual) variability in wave height and wind speed. Waves in the Chukchi Sea, Beaufort Sea (near the northern Alaska), and Laptev Sea have been increasing at a rate of 0.1–0.3 m decade−1, found to be statistically significant at the 90% level. The trend of waves in the Greenland and Barents Seas, on the contrary, is weak and not statistically significant. In the Barents and Kara Seas, winds and waves initially increased between 1996 and 2006 and later decreased. Large-scale atmospheric circulations such as the Arctic Oscillation and Arctic dipole anomaly have a clear impact on the variation of winds and waves in the Atlantic sector. Comparison between altimeter observations and ERA-Interim shows that the reanalysis winds are on average 1.6 m s−1 lower in the Arctic Ocean, which translates to a low bias of significant wave height (−0.27 m) in the reanalysis wave data.

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