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  • Author or Editor: Genrikh V. Alekseev x
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Igor V. Polyakov
,
Roman V. Bekryaev
,
Genrikh V. Alekseev
,
Uma S. Bhatt
,
Roger L. Colony
,
Mark A. Johnson
,
Alexander P. Maskshtas
, and
David Walsh

Abstract

Arctic atmospheric variability during the industrial era (1875–2000) is assessed using spatially averaged surface air temperature (SAT) and sea level pressure (SLP) records. Air temperature and pressure display strong multidecadal variability on timescales of 50–80 yr [termed low-frequency oscillation (LFO)]. Associated with this variability, the Arctic SAT record shows two maxima: in the 1930s–40s and in recent decades, with two colder periods in between. In contrast to the global and hemispheric temperature, the maritime Arctic temperature was higher in the late 1930s through the early 1940s than in the 1990s. Incomplete sampling of large-amplitude multidecadal fluctuations results in oscillatory Arctic SAT trends. For example, the Arctic SAT trend since 1875 is 0.09 ± 0.03°C decade−1, with stronger spring- and wintertime warming; during the twentieth century (when positive and negative phases of the LFO nearly offset each other) the Arctic temperature increase is 0.05 ± 0.04°C decade−1, similar to the Northern Hemispheric trend (0.06°C decade−1). Thus, the large-amplitude multidecadal climate variability impacting the maritime Arctic may confound the detection of the true underlying climate trend over the past century. LFO-modulated trends for short records are not indicative of the long-term behavior of the Arctic climate system. The accelerated warming and a shift of the atmospheric pressure pattern from anticyclonic to cyclonic in recent decades can be attributed to a positive LFO phase. It is speculated that this LFO-driven shift was crucial to the recent reduction in Arctic ice cover. Joint examination of air temperature and pressure records suggests that peaks in temperature associated with the LFO follow pressure minima after 5–15 yr. Elucidating the mechanisms behind this relationship will be critical to understanding the complex nature of low-frequency variability.

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Igor V. Polyakov
,
Genrikh V. Alekseev
,
Roman V. Bekryaev
,
Uma S. Bhatt
,
Roger Colony
,
Mark A. Johnson
,
Valerii P. Karklin
,
David Walsh
, and
Alexander V. Yulin

Abstract

Examination of records of fast ice thickness (1936–2000) and ice extent (1900–2000) in the Kara, Laptev, East Siberian, and Chukchi Seas provide evidence that long-term ice thickness and extent trends are small and generally not statistically significant, while trends for shorter records are not indicative of the long-term tendencies due to large-amplitude low-frequency variability. The ice variability in these seas is dominated by a multidecadal, low-frequency oscillation (LFO) and (to a lesser degree) by higher-frequency decadal fluctuations. The LFO signal decays eastward from the Kara Sea where it is strongest. In the Chukchi Sea ice variability is dominated by decadal fluctuations, and there is no evidence of the LFO. This spatial pattern is consistent with the air temperature–North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index correlation pattern, with maximum correlation in the near-Atlantic region, which decays toward the North Pacific. Sensitivity analysis shows that dynamical forcing (wind or surface currents) dominates ice-extent variations in the Laptev, East Siberian, and Chukchi Seas. Variability of Kara Sea ice extent is governed primarily by thermodynamic factors.

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