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Winter storms accelerate the demise of sea ice in the Atlantic sector of the Arctic Ocean

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Graham, RM, Itkin, P, Meyer, A ORCID: 0000-0003-0447-795X, Sundfjord, A, Spreen, G, Smedsrud, LH, Liston, GE, Cheng, B, Cohen, L, Divine, D, Fer, I, Fransson, A, Gerland, S, Haapala, J, Hudson, SR, Johansson, AM, King, J, Merkouriadi, I, Peterson, AK, Provost, C, Randelhoff, A, Rinke, A, Rosel, A, Sennechael, N, Walden, VP, Duarte, P, Assmy, P, Steen, H and Granskog, MA 2019 , 'Winter storms accelerate the demise of sea ice in the Atlantic sector of the Arctic Ocean' , Scientific Reports, vol. 9, no. 1 , pp. 1-16 , doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-45574-5.

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Abstract

A large retreat of sea-ice in the ‘stormy’ Atlantic Sector of the Arctic Ocean has become evident through a series of record minima for the winter maximum sea-ice extent since 2015. Results from the Norwegian young sea ICE (N-ICE2015) expedition, a five-month-long (Jan-Jun) drifting ice station in first and second year pack-ice north of Svalbard, showcase how sea-ice in this region is frequently affected by passing winter storms. Here we synthesise the interdisciplinary N-ICE2015 dataset, including independent observations of the atmosphere, snow, sea-ice, ocean, and ecosystem. We build upon recent results and illustrate the different mechanisms through which winter storms impact the coupled Arctic sea-ice system. These short-lived and episodic synoptic-scale events transport pulses of heat and moisture into the Arctic, which temporarily reduce radiative cooling and henceforth ice growth. Cumulative snowfall from each sequential storm deepens the snow pack and insulates the sea-ice, further inhibiting ice growth throughout the remaining winter season. Strong winds fracture the ice cover, enhance ocean-ice-atmosphere heat fluxes, and make the ice more susceptible to lateral melt. In conclusion, the legacy of Arctic winter storms for sea-ice and the ice-associated ecosystem in the Atlantic Sector lasts far beyond their short lifespan.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Graham, RM and Itkin, P and Meyer, A and Sundfjord, A and Spreen, G and Smedsrud, LH and Liston, GE and Cheng, B and Cohen, L and Divine, D and Fer, I and Fransson, A and Gerland, S and Haapala, J and Hudson, SR and Johansson, AM and King, J and Merkouriadi, I and Peterson, AK and Provost, C and Randelhoff, A and Rinke, A and Rosel, A and Sennechael, N and Walden, VP and Duarte, P and Assmy, P and Steen, H and Granskog, MA
Keywords: Arctic, sea ice, storms, winter, ocean, snow, ecosystem, climate change
Journal or Publication Title: Scientific Reports
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
ISSN: 2045-2322
DOI / ID Number: 10.1038/s41598-019-45574-5
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2019 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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