The impacts of combined SAM and ENSO on seasonal Antarctic sea ice changes

Both the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) are critical factors contributing to Antarctic sea ice variability on interannual time scales. However, their joint effects on sea ice are complex and remain unclear for each austral season. In this study, satellite sea ice concentration (SIC) observations and atmospheric reanalysis data are utilized to assess the impacts of combined SAM and ENSO on the seasonal Antarctic sea ice changes. The joint SAM-ENSO impacts on southern high-latitudes are principally controlled by the strength and position of the wave activity and associated atmospheric circulation anomalies affected by their interactions. In-phase events (La Niña/positive SAM and El Niño/negative SAM, hereinafter referred to as LN/pSAM & EN/nSAM) are characterized with an SIC dipole located in the Weddell/Bellingshausen Seas and Amundsen/Ross Seas, while out-of-phase events (El Niño/positive SAM and La Niña/negative SAM, hereinafter referred to as EN/pSAM & LN/nSAM) experience significant SIC anomalies in the Indian Ocean and western Pacific Ocean. Sea ice budget analyses are conducted to separate the dynamic and thermodynamic contributions inducing the sea ice intensification anomalies. The results show that in-phase intensification anomalies also display a pattern similar to the SIC dipole and are mainly driven by the direct thermodynamic forcing at the ice edge and thermodynamic responses to meridional sea ice drift in the inner pack, especially in autumn and winter. Dynamic processes caused by zonal sea ice drift also play an important role during out-of-phase conditions in addition to the same mechanisms during in-phase conditions.


Publication status:
Authors: Wang, J., Luo, H., Yu, L., Li, X., Holland, P.R. ORCIDORCID record for P.R. Holland, Yang, Q.

On this site: Paul Holland
1 June, 2023
Journal of Climate / 36
35pp / 3553-3569
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