Antarctic sea ice increase consistent with intrinsic variability of the Amundsen Sea Low
We investigate the relationship between atmospheric circulation variability and the recent trends in Antarctic sea ice extent (SIE) using Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) atmospheric data, ECMWF Interim reanalysis fields and passive microwave satellite data processed with the Bootstrap version 2 algorithm. Over 1979–2013 the annual mean total Antarctic SIE increased at a rate of 195 × 103 km2 dec−1 (1.6 % dec−1), p < 0.01. The largest regional positive trend of annual mean SIE of 119 × 103 km2 dec−1 (4.0 % dec−1) has been in the Ross Sea sector. Off West Antarctica there is a high correlation between trends in SIE and trends in the near-surface winds. The Ross Sea SIE seasonal trends are positive throughout the year, but largest in spring. The stronger meridional flow over the Ross Sea has been driven by a deepening of the Amundsen Sea Low (ASL). Pre-industrial control and historical simulations from CMIP5 indicate that the observed deepening of the ASL and stronger southerly flow over the Ross Sea are within the bounds of modeled intrinsic variability. The spring trend would need to continue for another 11 years for it to fall outside the 2 standard deviation range seen in 90 % of the simulations.
Authors: Turner, John, Hosking, J. Scott, Marshall, Gareth J., Phillips, Tony, Bracegirdle, Thomas J.