Arctic Spring Transition in Warming Climate: A Study Using Reanalysis Dataset

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Bithi De, International Arctic Research Center, Fairbanks, AK, United States; Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, United States and Xiangdong Zhang, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, United States
An increased warming trend over the Arctic in recent years has been documented using observations, and is expected to continue by climate model projections. This increase may shift the springtime transition time, resulting in a longer sea-ice melt and vegetation growing period over the Arctic. In this study, we investigated variability of and changes in the spring transition in a warming climate and examined attributions of various dynamic and thermodynamic processes. The results demonstrate a dramatic increase in springtime surface air temperature (SAT) over the Arctic since 1979. Physical analysis reveals the importance of large-scale poleward moisture and energy advection accompanied by an enhancement in net downward radiation flux, which result in the surface warming. The cloudiness could impact the surface radiation budget and retreat of sea ice cover reduces surface albedo, making an additional contribution to the surface warming. In addition to the overall evaluation of these physical processes, composite analysis suggests that relative contributions from these processes to the increased springtime SAT vary across different geographic sub-regions.