National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2006

The Third Arctic Climate Pattern: 1930s and early 2000s

Overland, J.E., and M. Wang

Geophys. Res. Lett., 32(23), L23808, doi: 10.1029/2005GL024254 (2005)

Persistent near-surface warm temperature anomalies have occurred in two localized areas, eastern Siberia/East Siberian Sea and northeastern Canada/Baffin Bay, during winter and spring in recent years (2000–2005) in contrast to previous decades. The proximate cause in winter was a northward displacement and strengthening of the Aleutian Low and a weakening of the Icelandic Low. Spring showed a dipole pattern with higher sea-level pressure (SLP) on the North American side of the Arctic and lower pressures over Eurasia. Phase space trajectories of arctic climate for 1951– 2005 based on the first two EOFs of SLP, the Arctic Oscillation and a Pacific North American-like (PNA*) pattern, show multi-annual variability leading to lower SLP and warmer temperatures in the last decades of the 20th century. Recent winters have some projection onto PNA*, but the SLP dipole in recent springs does not strongly project onto either of the two basic climate patterns. The period from 1928–1935 also had a dipole structure in SLP, which contributed to the interdecadal arctic-wide warm temperature anomalies in the first half of the 20th century. Recognition of the recent persistent and somewhat unique Arctic climate pattern is important as it contributes to the ongoing reorganization of arctic ecosystems.

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