Arctic Springtime Sea Ice and its Connection to ENSO Variability and Atmospheric Circulation

Authors: Lori Wachowicz*, University of Georgia
Topics: Climatology and Meteorology, Cryosphere, Physical Geography
Keywords: Arctic, sea ice, climate variability, ENSO, atmospheric circulation
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 46
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Arctic sea ice is rapidly declining due to internal feedbacks within the Arctic climate system itself as well as external contributions, such as changes in atmospheric circulation. External drivers, including those from climate variability, alter the atmospheric circulation at lower latitudes, which advect warm, moist air into the region, and promote sea ice loss. One such mode of climate variability which is drives circulation in the mid- to high latitudes is the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Nonetheless, even variability in ENSO itself, including the different “flavors” of ENSO have shown significant impacts on the surface air temperatures and circulation patterns in the Arctic.
We show that sea ice concentration during the observational record in the Beaufort Sea and near the Canadian Archipelago exhibit some sensitivity to variability in ENSO, particularly in February-May. We also show by lagged correlations that sea ice changes in March-May as a consequence of El Nino may be predicable 1-3 months in advance. When considering whether this relationship exists in the Community Earth Systems Model, version 1 (CESM1) Large Ensemble (LE) project, we find no significant correlation in this region with regard to the flavor of ENSO, though CESM1 LE appears to qualitatively suggest a relationship exists within the model. While the lack of correlation in the model may be attributed to how ENSO diversity is resolved in CESM1, observational analysis suggests some seasonal predictability in Arctic sea ice based on the location of tropical Pacific sea surface temperature anomalies.

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