Atmospheric Forcing on the Barents Sea Winter Ice Extent

Asgeir Sorteberg, Børge Kvingedal
2006 Journal of Climate  
The atmospheric forcing on the Barents Sea ice extent during winter [December-February (DJF)] has been investigated for the period 1967-2002. The time series for the sea ice extent is updated and includes the winter of 2005, which marks a new record low in the wintertime Barents Sea ice extent, and a linear trend of Ϫ3.5% decade Ϫ1 in the ice extent was found. Covariability between the Barents Sea ice extent and the atmospheric mean seasonal flow and the synoptic cyclones has been discussed
more » ... been discussed separately. For the mean flow, linear correlations and regression analysis reveal that anomalous northerly (southerly) winds prevail in the Nordic Seas during winters with extensive (sparse) Barents Sea ice extent. Some of the variability in the mean flow is captured by the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO); however, the wintertime link between the Barents Sea ice extent and the NAO is moderate. By studying the cyclone activity in the high-latitude Northern Hemisphere using a dataset of individual cyclones, two regions that influence the wintertime Barents Sea ice extent were identified. The variability in the northward-moving cyclones traveling into the Arctic over East Siberia was found to covary strongly with the Barents Sea ice extent. The main mechanism is believed to be the change in the Arctic winds and in ice advection connected to the cyclones. In addition, cyclone activity of northward-moving cyclones over the western Nordic Seas was identified to strongly influence the Barents Sea ice extent. This relationship was particularly strong on decadal time scales and when the ice extent lagged the cyclone variability by 1-2 yr. The lag indicates that the mechanism is related to the cyclones' ability to modulate the inflow of Atlantic water into the Nordic Seas and the transport time of oceanic heat anomalies from the Nordic Seas into the Barents Sea. Multiple regression indicates that the two mechanisms may explain (or at least covary with) 46% of the wintertime Barents Sea variance over the 1967-2002 period and that 79% of the decadal part of the ice variability may be predicted 2 yr ahead using information about the decadal cyclone variability in the Nordic Seas.
doi:10.1175/jcli3885.1 fatcat:q2l5vimpgrayph4tydsfpiieoq