National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2021

Accelerated decline of summer Arctic sea ice during 1850–2017 and the amplified Arctic warming during the recent decades

Cai, Q., J. Wang, D. Beletsky, J.E. Overland, M. Ikeda, and L. Wan

Environ. Res. Lett., 16, 034015, doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/abdb5f, View online (open access) (2021)

The 168 year trends of summer (July–September) sea ice area (SIA) variations in six Arctic regions during 1850–2017 are analyzed. SIA has been significantly decreasing in most Arctic regions since 1850. The rate of retreat for the period of 1948–2017 accelerated multi-fold. For the nearly four decades since 1979, most Arctic regions are experiencing the highest reduction rate. Besides the increasing surface air temperature, the key drivers to the accelerated summer Arctic sea ice decline are found to be the combined global warming and the regional Arctic warming exerted simultaneously by the Arctic Oscillation, North Atlantic Oscillation, Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation and Pacific Decadal Oscillation during the last several decades. The dynamical and thermodynamical warming, driven by the internal variability of the teleconnection patterns, occurred in the last several decades, in particular on the multidecadal timescales. This leads to Arctic amplification that accelerates the positive ice/ocean albedo feedback loop, resulting in accelerating summer sea ice decline.

Feature Publications | Outstanding Scientific Publications

Contact Sandra Bigley |