|Download PDF||3.29 MB|
Arctic summer sea ice extent exhibits substantial interannual variability, as is highlighted by the remarkable recovery in sea ice extent in 2013 following the record minimum in the summer of 2012. Here, the mechanism via which Arctic Oscillation (AO)-induced ice thickness changes impact summer sea ice is explored, using observations and reanalysis data. A positive AO weakens the basin-scale anticyclonic sea ice drift and decreases the winter ice thickness by 15 and 10 cm in the Eurasian and the Pacific sectors of the Arctic, respectively. Three reanalysis datasets show that the upward surface heat fluxes are reduced over wide areas of the Arctic, suppressing the ice growth during the positive AO winters. The winter dynamic and thermodynamic thinning preconditions the ice for enhanced radiative forcing via the ice–albedo feedback in late spring–summer, leading to an additional 10 cm of thinning over the Pacific sector of the Arctic. Because of these winter AO-induced dynamic and thermodynamics effects, the winter AO explains about 22% (r = −0.48) of the interannual variance of September sea ice extent from 1980 to 2015.