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Arctic sea-ice oscillation: regional and seasonal perspectives

  • Jia Wang (a1) and Moto Ikeda (a1) (a2)

Variability of the sea-ice cover (extent) in the Northern Hemisphere (Arctic and subpolar regions) associated with the Arctic Oscillation (AO) is investigated using historical data from 1901 to 1997. A principal-component analysis (empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs)) was applied to sea-ice area (SIA) anomalies for the period 1953−95. The leading EOF mode for the SI A anomaly shows an in-phase fluctuation in response to the AO and is called the Arctic sea-ice oscillation (ASIO). Arctic sea ice experiences seasonal variations that differ in timing and magnitude. Four types of seasonal variation are identified in the Arctic sea ice, and are superimposed on long-term interannual to decadal variability. Consistent with the total Arctic SIA anomaly eight regional SIA anomalies have shown significant in-phase decrease (downward trend) since 1970, possibly part of a very long-term (century) cycle. Thus, it is recommended that SIA anomalies in the sensitive seasons be used to better capture interannual, interdecadal and longer (century) variability. Major decadal and interdecadal time-scales of SIA anomalies are found at 12−14 and 17−20 years. In the Sea of Okhotsk, a century time-scale is evident. The reduction rate (negative trend) of the total Arctic sea-ice cover in the last three decades is −4.5% per decade, with the summer rate being the highest (-10.2% per decade). The contribution to this total reduction varies from region to region, with sea-ice cover in the Greenland and Norwegian Seas experiencing the highest reduction rate of −20.2 % per decade.

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Annals of Glaciology
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