Summer Arctic Atmospheric Circulation Response to Spring Eurasian Snow Cover and its Possible Linkage to Accelerated Sea Ice Decrease

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Xiangdong Zhang, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, United States, Shinji Matsumura, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan and Koji Yamazaki, Hokkaido University, Graduate School of Environmental Earth Science, Sapporo, Japan; NIPR National Institute of Polar Research, Tokyo, Japan
Anticyclonic circulation has intensified over the Arctic Ocean in summer during recent decades. However, the underlying mechanism is, as yet, not well understood. Here we show that earlier spring Eurasian snowmelt leads to anomalously negative sea level pressure (SLP) over Eurasia and positive SLP over the Arctic, which has strong projection on the negative phase of the Northern Annular Mode (NAM) in summer through the wave-mean flow interaction. Specifically, earlier spring snowmelt over Eurasia leads to a warmer land surface, due to reduced surface albedo. The warmed surface amplifies stationary Rossby waves, leading to a deceleration of the subpolar jet. As a consequence, rising motion is enhanced over the land, and compensating subsidence and adiabatic heating occur in the Arctic troposphere, forming the negative NAM. The intensified anticyclonic circulation has played a contributing role in accelerating the sea ice decline observed during the last two decades. The results here provide important information for improving seasonal prediction of summer sea ice cover.