Climate Dynamics

, 33:937 | Cite as

Impact of a projected future Arctic Sea Ice reduction on extratropical storminess and the NAO



The impact of a reduced Arctic sea ice cover on wintertime extratropical storminess is investigated by conducting atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) experiments. The AGCM ECHAM5 is forced by the present and a projected future seasonal cycle of Arctic sea ice. In the experiment with projected sea-ice concentrations significant reductions in storminess were found during December and January in both midlatitudes and towards the Arctic. However, a substantially larger reduction in extratropical storminess was found in March, despite a smaller change in surface energy fluxes in March than in the other winter months. The projected decrease in storminess is also related to the negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). The March response is consistent with a forcing from transient and quasi-stationary eddies associated with negative NAO events. The greater sensitivity to sea-ice anomalies in late winter sets this study apart from earlier ones.


Sea-ice NAO Storminess Climate change Seasonality AGCM 



We thank Nils Gunnar Kvamstø, Gudrun Magnusdottir and Justin Wettstein for insightful discussions. We thank the Max-Planck-Institute for Meteorology for providing and supporting the ECHAM5 model. The UK Meteorological Office and Hadley Centre is acknowledged for providing the HadISST 1.1—global sea-ice coverage and SST—dataset. We acknowledge the modeling groups, the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) and the WCRP’s Working Group on Coupled Modelling (WGCM) for their roles in making available the WCRP CMIP3 multi-model dataset. Support of this dataset is provided by the Office of Science, US Department of Energy. This work was supported by the COMPAS and NorClim projects funded by the research council of Norway. The model runs have been performed at the Norwegian Metacenter For Computational Science (NOTUR) in Trondheim.


  1. Alexander MA, Bhatt US, Walsh JE, Timlin MS, Miller JS, Scott JD (2004) The atmospheric response to realistic Arctic sea ice anomalies in an AGCM during winter. J Clim 17:890–905CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bengtsson L, Hodges KI, Roeckner E (2006) Storm tracks and climate change. J Clim 19:3518–3543CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chang EKM, Lee SY, Swanson KL (2002) Storm track dynamics. J Clim 15:2163–2183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Deser C, Magnusdottir G, Saravanan R, Phillips A (2004) The effects of North Atlantic SST and sea ice anomalies on the winter circulation in CCM3. Part II: Direct and indirect components of the response. J Clim 17:877–889CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Deser C, Tomas RA, Peng SL (2007) The transient atmospheric circulation response to North Atlantic SST and sea ice anomalies. J Clim 20:4751–4767CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Edmon HJ, Hoskins BJ, McIntyre ME (1980) Eliassen-Palm cross-sections for the troposphere. J Atmos Sci 37:2600–2616CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Eisenman I, Untersteiner N, Wettlaufer JS (2007) On the reliability of simulated Arctic sea ice in global climate models. Geophys Res Lett 34:L10501CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Held IM (1993) Large-scale dynamics and global warming. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 74:228–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kushnir Y, Robinson WA, Blade I, Hall NMJ, Peng S, Sutton R (2002) Atmospheric GCM response to extratropical SST anomalies: synthesis and evaluation. J Clim 15:2233–2256CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kvamstø NG, Skeie P, Stephenson DB (2004) Impact of Labrador sea-ice extent on the North Atlantic Oscillation. Int J Climatol 24:603–612CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Limpasuvan V, Hartmann DL (2000) Wave-maintained annular modes of climate variability. J Clim 13:4414–4429CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Lorenz DJ, Hartmann DL (2003) Eddy-zonal flow feedback in the Northern Hemisphere winter. J Clim 16:1212–1227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Magnusdottir G, Deser C, Saravanan R (2004) The effects of North Atlantic SST and sea ice anomalies on the winter circulation in CCM3. Part I: Main features and storm track characteristics of the response. J Clim 17:857–876CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Peng SL, Robinson WA (2001) Relationships between atmospheric internal variability and the responses to an extratropical SST anomaly. J Clim 14:2943–2959CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Peng SL, Robinson WA, Hoerling MP (1997) The modeled atmospheric response to midlatitude SST anomalies and its dependence on background circulation states. J Clim 10:971–987CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Pinto JG, Ulbrich U, Leckebusch GC, Spangehl T, Reyers M, Zacharias S (2007) Changes in storm track and cyclone activity in three SRES ensemble experiments with the ECHAM5/MPI-OM1 GCM. Clim Dyn 29:195–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Rayner NA, Parker DE, Horton EB, Folland CK, Alexander LV, Rowell DP, Kent EC, Kaplan A (2003) Global analyses of sea surface temperature, sea ice, and night marine air temperature since the late nineteenth century. J Geophys Res Atmos 108:4407CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Singarayer JS, Bamber JL, Valdes PJ (2006) Twenty-first-century climate impacts from a declining Arctic sea ice cover. J Clim 19:1109–1125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Stroeve J, Holland MM, Meier W, Scambos T, Serreze M (2007) Arctic sea ice decline: faster than forecast. Geophys Res Lett 34:L09501CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ulbrich U, Pinto JG, Kupfer H, Leckebusch GC, Spangehl T, Reyers M (2008) Changing Northern Hemisphere storm tracks in an ensemble of IPCC climate change simulations. J Clim 21:1669–1679CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Wallace JM, Lim GH, Blackmon ML (1988) On the relationship between cyclone tracks, anticyclone tracks and baroclinic wave guides. J Atmos Sci 45:439–462CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Yin JH (2005) A consistent poleward shift of the storm tracks in simulations of 21st century climate. Geophys Res Lett 32:L18701CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Zhang XD, Walsh JE (2006) Toward a seasonally ice-covered Arctic Ocean: scenarios from the IPCC AR4 model simulations. J Clim 19:1730–1747CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geophysical InstituteUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  2. 2.Bjerknes Centre for Climate ResearchBergenNorway

Personalised recommendations