Results from a regional model of the Arctic Ocean and sea ice forced with realistic atmospheric data are analyzed to understand recent climate variability in the region. The primary simulation uses daily-averaged 1979 atmospheric fields repeated for 20 years and then continues with interannual forcing derived from the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts for 1979−98. An eastward shift in the ice-ocean circulation, fresh-water distribution and Atlantic Water extent has been determined by comparing conditions between the early 1980s and 1990s. A new trend is modeled in the late 1990s, and has a tendency to return the large-scale sea-ice and upper ocean conditions to their state in the early 1980s. Both the sea-ice and the upper ocean circulation as well as fresh-water export from the Russian shelves and Atlantic Water recirculation within the Eurasian Basin indicate that the Arctic climate is undergoing another shift. This suggests an oscillatory behavior of the Arctic Ocean system. Interannual atmospheric variability appears to be the main and sufficient driver of simulated changes. The ice cover acts as an effective dynamic medium for vorticity transfer from the atmosphere into the ocean.
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