The influence of the Arctic atmosphere on Northern Hemisphere midlatitude tropospheric weather and climate is explored by comparing the skill of two sets of 14-day weather forecast experiments using the ECMWF model with and without relaxation of the Arctic atmosphere towards ERA-Interim reanalysis data during the integration. Two pathways are identified along which the Arctic influences midlatitude weather: a pronounced one over Asia and Eastern Europe, and a secondary one over North America. In general, linkages are found to be strongest (weakest) during boreal winter (summer) when the amplitude of stationary planetary waves over the Northern Hemisphere is strongest (weakest). No discernible Arctic impact is found over the North Atlantic and North Pacific region, which is consistent with predominantly southwesterly flow. An analysis of the flow-dependence of the linkages shows that anomalous northerly flow conditions increase the Arctic influence on midlatitude weather over the continents. Specifically, an anomalous northerly flow from the Kara Sea towards West Asia leads to cold surface temperature anomalies not only over West Asia but also over Eastern and Central Europe. Finally, the results of this study are discussed in the light of potential midlatitude benefits of improved Arctic prediction capabilities.
Conflicting results have been presented regarding the link between Arctic sea-ice loss and midlatitude cooling, particularly over Eurasia. This study analyzes uncoupled (atmosphere-only) and coupled (ocean-atmosphere) simulations by the Climate Forecast System, version 2 (CFSv2), to examine this linkage during the Northern Hemisphere winter, focusing on the simulation of the observed surface cooling trend over Eurasia during the last three decades. The uncoupled simulations are Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project (AMIP) runs forced with mean seasonal cycles of sea surface temperature (SST) and sea ice, using combinations of SST and sea ice from different time periods to assess the role that each plays individually, and to assess the role of atmospheric internal variability. Coupled runs are used to further investigate the role of internal variability via the analysis of initialized predictions and the evolution of the forecast with lead time. The AMIP simulations show a mean warming response over Eurasia due to SST changes, but little response to changes in sea ice. Individual runs simulate cooler periods over Eurasia, and this is shown to be concurrent with a stronger Siberian high and warming over Greenland. No substantial differences in the variability of Eurasian surface temperatures are found between the different model configurations. In the coupled runs, the region of significant warming over Eurasia is small at short leads, but increases at longer leads. It is concluded that, although the models have some capability in highlighting the temperature variability over Eurasia, the observed cooling may still be a consequence of internal variability.
This study examines pre-industrial control simulations from CMIP5 climate models in an effort to better understand the complex relationships between Arctic sea ice and the stratosphere, and between Arctic sea ice and cold winter temperatures over Eurasia. We present normalized regressions of Arctic sea-ice area against several atmospheric variables at extended lead and lag times. Statistically significant regressions are found at leads and lags, suggesting both atmospheric precursors of, and responses to, low sea ice; but generally, the regressions are stronger when the atmosphere leads sea ice, including a weaker polar stratospheric vortex indicated by positive polar cap height anomalies. Significant positive midlatitude eddy heat flux anomalies are also found to precede low sea ice. We argue that low sea ice and raised polar cap height are both a response to this enhanced midlatitude eddy heat flux. The so-called "warm Arctic, cold continents" anomaly pattern is present one to two months before low sea ice, but is absent in the months following low sea ice, suggesting that the Eurasian cooling and low sea ice are driven by similar processes. Lastly, our results suggest a dependence on the geographic region of low sea ice, with low Barents-Kara Sea ice correlated with a weakened polar stratospheric vortex, whilst low Sea of Okhotsk ice is correlated with a strengthened polar vortex. Overall, the results support a notion that the sea ice, polar stratospheric vortex and Eurasian surface temperatures collectively respond to large-scale changes in tropospheric circulation.
We identify that the projected uncertainty of the pan-Arctic sea-ice concentration (SIC) is strongly coupled with the Eurasian circulation in the boreal winter (December-March; DJFM), based on a singular value decomposition (SVD) analysis of the forced response of 11 CMIP5 models. In the models showing a stronger sea-ice decline, the Polar cell becomes weaker and there is an anomalous increase in the sea level pressure (SLP) along 60°N, including the Urals-Siberia region and the Iceland low region. There is an accompanying weakening of both the midlatitude westerly winds and the Ferrell cell, where the SVD signals are also related to anomalous sea surface temperature warming in the midlatitude North Atlantic. In the Mediterranean region, the anomalous circulation response shows a decreasing SLP and increasing precipitation. The anomalous SLP responses over the Euro-Atlantic region project on to the negative North Atlantic Oscillation-like pattern. Altogether, pan-Arctic SIC decline could strongly impact the winter Eurasian climate, but we should be cautious about the causality of their linkage.
In contrast to previous studies that have tended to focus on the influence of the total Arctic sea-ice cover on the East Asian summer tripole rainfall pattern, the present study identifies the Barents Sea as the key region where the June sea-ice variability exerts the most significant impacts on the East Asian August tripole rainfall pattern, and explores the teleconnection mechanisms involved. The results reveal that a reduction in June sea ice excites anomalous upward air motion due to strong near-surface thermal forcing, which further triggers a meridional overturning wave-like pattern extending to midlatitudes. Anomalous downward motion therefore forms over the Caspian Sea, which in turn induces zonally oriented overturning circulation along the subtropical jet stream, exhibiting the east-west Rossby wave train known as the Silk Road pattern. It is suggested that the Bonin high, a subtropical anticyclone predominant near South Korea, shows a significant anomaly due to the eastward extension of the Silk Road pattern to East Asia. As a possible descending branch of the Hadley cell, the Bonin high anomaly ultimately triggers a meridional overturning, establishing the Pacific-Japan pattern. This in turn induces an anomalous anticyclone and cyclone pair over East Asia, and a tripole vertical convection anomaly meridionally oriented over East Asia. Consequently, a tripole rainfall anomaly pattern is observed over East Asia. Results from numerical experiments using version 5 of the Community Atmosphere Model support the interpretation of this chain of events.
The role of winter sea-ice in the Labrador Sea as a precursor for precipitation anomalies over southeastern North America and Western Europe in the following spring is investigated. In general terms, as the sea ice increases, the precipitation also increases. In more detail, however, analyses indicate that both the winter sea-ice and the sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies related to increases in winter sea-ice in the Labrador Sea can persist into the following spring. These features play a forcing role in the spring atmosphere, which may be the physical mechanism behind the observational relationship between the winter sea-ice and spring precipitation anomalies. The oceanic forcings in spring include Arctic sea-ice anomalies and SST anomalies in the tropical Pacific and high-latitude North Atlantic. Multi-model Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 and Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project simulation results show that the atmospheric circulation response to the combination of sea-ice and SST is similar to that observed, which suggests that the oceanic forcings are indeed the physical reason for the enhanced spring precipitation. Sensitivity experiments conducted using an atmospheric general circulation model indicate that the increases in precipitation over southeastern North America are mainly attributable to the effect of the SST anomalies, while the increases over Western Europe are mainly due to the sea-ice anomalies. Although model simulations reveal that the SST anomalies play the primary role in the precipitation anomalies over southeastern North America, the observational statistical analyses indicate that the area of sea-ice in the Labrador Sea seems to be the precursor that best predicts the spring precipitation anomaly.
Alaskan Arctic waters have participated in hemispheric-wide Arctic warming over the last two decades at over two times the rate of global warming. During 2008-13, this relative warming occurred only north of the Bering Strait and the atmospheric Arctic front that forms a north-south thermal barrier. This front separates the southeastern Bering Sea temperatures from Arctic air masses. Model projections show that future temperatures in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas continue to warm at a rate greater than the global rate, reaching a change of +4°C by 2040 relative to the 1981-2010 mean. Offshore at 74°N, climate models project the open water duration season to increase from a current average of three months to five months by 2040. These rates are occasionally enhanced by midlatitude connections. Beginning in August 2014, additional Arctic warming was initiated due to increased SST anomalies in the North Pacific and associated shifts to southerly winds over Alaska, especially in winter 2015-16. While global warming and equatorial teleconnections are implicated in North Pacific SSTs, the ending of the 2014-16 North Pacific warm event demonstrates the importance of internal, chaotic atmospheric natural variability on weather conditions in any given year. Impacts from global warming on Alaskan Arctic temperature increases and sea-ice and snow loss, with occasional North Pacific support, are projected to continue to propagate through the marine ecosystem in the foreseeable future. The ecological and societal consequences of such changes show a radical departure from the current Arctic environment.
Poleward atmospheric moisture transport (AMT) into the Arctic Ocean can change atmospheric moisture or water vapor content and cause cloud formation and redistribution, which may change downward longwave radiation and, in turn, surface energy budgets, air temperatures, and sea-ice production and melt. In this study, we found a consistently enhanced poleward AMT across 60°N since 1959 based on the NCAR-NCEP reanalysis. Regional analysis demonstrates that the poleward AMT predominantly occurs over the North Atlantic and North Pacific regions, contributing about 57% and 32%, respectively, to the total transport. To improve our understanding of the driving force for this enhanced poleward AMT, we explored the role that extratropical cyclone activity may play. Climatologically, about 207 extratropical cyclones move across 60°N into the Arctic Ocean each year, among which about 66 (32% of the total) and 47 (23%) originate from the North Atlantic and North Pacific Ocean, respectively. When analyzing the linear trends of the time series constructed by using a 20-year running window, we found a positive correlation of 0.70 between poleward yearly AMT and the integrated cyclone activity index (measurement of cyclone intensity, number, and duration). This shows the consistent multidecadal changes between these two parameters and may suggest cyclone activity plays a driving role in the enhanced poleward AMT. Furthermore, a composite analysis indicates that intensification and poleward extension of the Icelandic low and accompanying strengthened cyclone activity play an important role in enhancing poleward AMT over the North Atlantic region.
Early studies suggested that the Aleutian-Icelandic low seesaw (AIS) features multidecadal variation. In this study, the multidecadal modulation of the AIS and associated surface climate by the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) during late winter (February-March) is explored with observational data. It is shown that, in the cold phase of the AMO (AMO|-), a clear AIS is established, while this is not the case in the warm phase of the AMO (AMO|+). The surface climate over Eurasia is significantly influenced by the AMO's modulation of the Aleutian low (AL). For example, the weak AL in AMO|- displays warmer surface temperatures over the entire Far East and along the Russian Arctic coast and into Northern Europe, but only over the Russian Far East in AMO|+. Similarly, precipitation decreases over central Europe with the weak AL in AMO|-, but decreases over northern Europe and increases over southern Europe in AMO|+. The mechanism underlying the influence of AMO|- on the AIS can be described as follows: AMO|- weakens the upward component of the Eliassen-Palm flux along the polar waveguide by reducing atmospheric blocking occurrence over the Euro-Atlantic sector, and hence drives an enhanced stratospheric polar vortex. With the intensified polar night jet, the wave trains originating over the central North Pacific can propagate horizontally through North America and extend into the North Atlantic, favoring an eastward-extended Pacific-North America-Atlantic pattern, and resulting in a significant AIS at the surface during late winter.
The Arctic sea-ice extent has shown a declining trend over the past 30 years. Ice coverage reached historic minima in 2007 and again in 2012. This trend has recently been assessed to be unique over at least the last 1450 years. In the summer of 2010, a very low sea-ice concentration (SIC) appeared at high Arctic latitudes——even lower than that of surrounding pack ice at lower latitudes. This striking low ice concentration——referred to here as a record low ice concentration in the central Arctic (CARLIC)——is unique in our analysis period of 2003-15, and has not been previously reported in the literature. The CARLIC was not the result of ice melt, because sea ice was still quite thick based on in-situ ice thickness measurements. Instead, divergent ice drift appears to have been responsible for the CARLIC. A high correlation between SIC and wind stress curl suggests that the sea ice drift during the summer of 2010 responded strongly to the regional wind forcing. The drift trajectories of ice buoys exhibited a transpolar drift in the Atlantic sector and an eastward drift in the Pacific sector, which appeared to benefit the CARLIC in 2010. Under these conditions, more solar energy can penetrate into the open water, increasing melt through increased heat flux to the ocean. We speculate that this divergence of sea ice could occur more often in the coming decades, and impact on hemispheric SIC and feed back to the climate.
The variation of the vegetation growing season in the Three-Rivers Headwater Region of the Tibetan Plateau has recently become a controversial topic. One issue is that the estimated local trend in the start of the vegetation growing season (SOS) based on remote sensing data is easily affected by outliers because this data series is short. In this study, we determine that the spring minimum temperature is the most influential factor for SOS. The significant negative linear relationship between the two variables in the region is evaluated using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer-Normalized Difference Vegetation Index data for 2000-13. We then reconstruct the SOS time series based on the temperature data for 1960-2013. The regional mean SOS shows an advancing trend of 1.42 d (10 yr)-1 during 1960-2013, with the SOS occurring on the 160th and 151st days in 1960 and 2013, respectively. The advancing trend enhances to 6.04 d (10 yr)-1 during the past 14 years. The spatiotemporal variations of the reconstructed SOS data are similar to those deduced from remote sensing data during the past 14 years. The latter exhibit an even larger regional mean trend of SOS [7.98 d (10 yr-1)] during 2000-13. The Arctic Oscillation is found to have significantly influenced the changing SOS, especially for the eastern part of the region, during 2000-13.
The link between boreal winter cooling over the midlatitudes of Asia and the Barents Oscillation (BO) since the late 1980s is discussed in this study, based on five datasets. Results indicate that there is a large-scale boreal winter cooling during 1990-2015 over the Asian midlatitudes, and that it is a part of the decadal oscillations of long-term surface air temperature (SAT) anomalies. The SAT anomalies over the Asian midlatitudes are significantly correlated with the BO in boreal winter. When the BO is in its positive phase, anomalously high sea level pressure over the Barents region, with a clockwise wind anomaly, causes cold air from the high latitudes to move over the midlatitudes of Asia, resulting in anomalous cold conditions in that region. Therefore, the recent increasing trend of the BO has contributed to recent winter cooling over the Asian midlatitudes.