Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/wcd-2021-80
https://doi.org/10.5194/wcd-2021-80

  22 Dec 2021

22 Dec 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal WCD.

Summertime changes in climate extremes over the peripheral Arctic regions after a sudden sea ice retreat

Steve Delhaye1, Thierry Fichefet1, François Massonnet1, David Docquier2, Rym Msadek3, Svenya Chripko3, Christopher Roberts4, Sarah Keeley4, and Retish Senan4 Steve Delhaye et al.
  • 1Georges Lemaître Centre for Earth and Climate Research, Earth and Life Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
  • 2Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium, Brussels, Belgium
  • 3CECI, Université de Toulouse, CNRS, CERFACS, Toulouse, France
  • 4European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, Shinfield Park, Reading, RG2 9AX, UK

Abstract. The retreat of Arctic sea ice is frequently considered as a possible driver of changes in climate extremes in the Arctic and possibly down to mid-latitudes. However, it is unclear how the atmosphere will respond to a near-total retreat of summer Arctic sea ice, a reality that might occur in the foreseeable future. This study explores this question by conducting sensitivity experiments with two global coupled climate models run at two different horizontal resolutions to investigate the change in temperature and precipitation extremes during summer over peripheral Arctic regions following a sudden reduction in summer Arctic sea ice cover. An increase in frequency and persistence of maximum surface air temperature is found in all peripheral Arctic regions during the summer when sea ice loss occurs. For each million km2 of Arctic sea ice extent reduction, the absolute frequency of days exceeding the surface air temperature of the climatological 90th percentile increases by ~4 % over the Svalbard area, and the duration of warm spells increases by ~1 day per month over the same region. Furthermore, we find that the 10th percentile of surface daily air temperature increases more than the 90th percentile, leading to a weakened diurnal cycle of surface air temperature. Finally, an increase in extreme precipitation, which is less robust (statistically speaking) than the increase in extreme temperatures, is found in all regions in summer. These findings suggest that a sudden retreat of summer Arctic sea ice clearly impacts the extremes in maximum surface air temperature and precipitation over the peripheral Arctic regions with the largest influence over inhabited islands such as Svalbard or Northern Canada. Nonetheless, even with a large sea ice reduction in regions close to the North Pole, the local precipitation response is relatively small compared to internal climate variability.

Steve Delhaye et al.

Status: open (until 23 Feb 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on wcd-2021-80', Anonymous Referee #1, 29 Dec 2021 reply

Steve Delhaye et al.

Steve Delhaye et al.

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Short summary
It is unclear how the atmosphere will respond to a retreat of summer Arctic sea ice. Much attention has been paid so far on weather extremes at mid-latitude and in winter. Here we focus on the changes in extremes in surface air temperature and precipitation over the Arctic regions in summer during and following abrupt sea ice retreats. We find that Arctic sea ice loss clearly shifts the extremes in surface air temperature and precipitation over terrestrial regions surrounding the Arctic Ocean.