20 June, 2018

This study, led by scientists from the British Antarctic Survey, suggests that sea-ice loss in different regions of the Arctic, and of different amounts, leads to different effects on surface temperatures across Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes.

This is important to understand, since sea ice in the Arctic is rapidly shrinking due to rising global temperatures, but where this sea-ice loss occurs varies from year-to-year, as does the amount of loss.

In the study, global climate model simulations are run with sea-ice loss imposed in either the Atlantic or Pacific sectors of the Arctic (the Barents-Kara Seas or Chukchi-Bering Seas). This is done in each case for two different amounts of sea-ice loss. In the four different cases, there are different effects on surface temperatures (cooling or warming) across parts of North America and Northern Europe. This is because sea-ice loss does two things:

  1. It warms the nearby region, and
  2. It modifies the jet stream.

The combination of these means that the total effect is different (indeed opposite in places) depending on the region and amount of ice loss.


The Paper
Arctic Sea Ice Loss in Different Regions Leads to Contrasting Northern Hemisphere Impact

King, J. C., D. Bannister, J. S. Hosking, and S. R. Colwell (2017)

Published by
Geophysical Research Letters, 45 (2). 945-954. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017GL076433