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Deser C., R. Tomas, M. A. Alexander and D. M. Lawrence (January 2010): The Seasonal Atmospheric Response to Projected Arctic Sea Ice Loss in the Late Twenty-First Century. J. Climate, 23 (2), 333-351. doi:10.1175/2009JCLI3053.1

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The authors investigate the atmospheric response to projected Arctic sea ice loss at the end of the twenty-first century using an atmospheric general circulation model (GCM) coupled to a land surface model. The response was obtained from two 60-yr integrations: one with a repeating seasonal cycle of specified sea ice conditions for the late twentieth century (1980–99) and one with that of sea ice conditions for the late twenty-first century (2080–99). In both integrations, a repeating seasonal cycle of SSTs for 1980–99 was prescribed to isolate the impact of projected future sea ice loss. Note that greenhouse gas concentrations remained fixed at 1980–99 levels in both sets of experiments. The twentieth- and twenty-first-century sea ice (and SST) conditions were obtained from ensemble mean integrations of a coupled GCM under historical forcing and Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) A1B scenario forcing, respectively. The loss of Arctic sea ice is greatest in summer and fall, yet the response of the net surface energy budget over the Arctic Ocean is largest in winter. Air temperature and precipitation responses also maximize in winter, both over the Arctic Ocean and over the adjacent high-latitude continents. Snow depths increase over Siberia and northern Canada because of the enhanced winter precipitation. Atmospheric warming over the high-latitude continents is mainly confined to the boundary layer (below 850 hPa) and to regions with a strong low-level temperature inversion. Enhanced warm air advection by submonthly transient motions is the primary mechanism for the terrestrial warming. A significant large-scale atmospheric circulation response is found during winter, with a baroclinic (equivalent barotropic) vertical structure over the Arctic in November–December (January–March). This response resembles the negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation in February only. Comparison with the fully coupled model reveals that Arctic sea ice loss accounts for most of the seasonal, spatial, and vertical structure of the high-latitude warming response to greenhouse gas forcing at the end of the twenty-first century.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: PSD Publications
Divisions: Physical Sciences Division
DOI: 10.1175/2009JCLI3053.1