Credit: CC0 Public Domain
The northern polar region is seeing the most dramatic changes as the effects of climate change are felt around the planet. Sea ice is rapidly melting in the Arctic due to the region’s rapid warming, which is occurring at a rate that is two to three times faster than the global average.
In a recent study published this month in Nature Communications, researchers found that the loss of sea ice in the Arctic and the rest of the world is having a long-term effect on the climate in the region.
Temperature oscillations in Arctic sea ice cover can exacerbate multi-decade differences in surface temperatures not just in the Arctic, but also in the North Atlantic Ocean, a study conducted by University at Albany atmospheric scientist Aiguo Dai found.
Sea ice loss has had a big impact on global climate recently and will continue to do so in the future, according to these researchers.
Dai, a distinguished professor at the University of Albany’s Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, said that “through our study, we demonstrated for the first time that sea ice-air interactions can greatly enlarge or amplify multi-decadal climate variations not only in the Arctic, but also the North Atlantic.”
There is a good chance that the effects of the melting Arctic sea ice will continue to be felt for many decades to come, not only in the Arctic, but also in the North Atlantic and other parts of the world. Temperature and precipitation fluctuations over Europe, North America, West Africa, and South America can be caused by anomalous sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic.
Ice-air interactions at the sea ice level
Observational data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and two new climate model simulations were used in the study. Arctic sea-ice cover was permitted to fluctuate freely in one scenario, whereas the second parallel simulation was performed without year-to-year changes.
Multidecadal climatic changes in the Arctic and North Atlantic were decreased by 20 to 50 percent when sea ice cover was stabilised. Climate change is likely to be controlled in part by sea ice-air interactions.
Using an annual carbon dioxide increase of 1%, the researchers performed further simulations to verify their findings. Currently, they are looking at other possible effects of Arctic sea ice, such as the El Nino-Southern Oscillation in the tropical Pacific.
UAlbany’s Dai collaborated with Jiechun Deng, an atmospheric scientist from Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, from 2018 to 2020. A team led by him has published a groundbreaking study.
It was an honour to work with Professor Dai at UAlbany, where Deng called the experience “very motivating.” “Climate change is magnified by the interplay between sea ice and air, according to our findings. A new perspective on sea ice’s recent significance in Arctic and midlatitude temperature trends is therefore added to the continuing discussion.”
In the last several years, Dai and his team have published a number of Nature Communications articles focusing on changes in the Arctic climate.
In 2019, Dai conducted a research analysing the reasons of Arctic Amplification (AA), the term used to characterise the Arctic’s warming rates at two to three times the rest of the earth. Additional AA will continue to rise until the Arctic’s sea ice has completely melted away in the 23rd century, according to climatic scenarios used in the study.
Further, same study revealed that AA would not exist if surface fluxes were computed with a constant sea ice cover, thus demonstrating that Arctic sea ice loss has substantial climate implications.
According to Dai, “the Arctic area is particularly crucial for Earth’s climate, and its rapid melting of its sea ice is having enormous climatic repercussions throughout the globe.”
Further information: Jiechun Deng et al, Sea ice–air interactions amplify multidecadal variability in the North Atlantic and Arctic region, Nature Communications (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-29810-7
Journal information: Nature Communications