Journal of Meteorological Research

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 468–475 | Cite as

Physical processes responsible for the interannual variability of sea ice concentration in Arctic in boreal autumn since 1979

  • Lei Zhang
  • Tim Li
Regular Articles


Arctic sea ice concentration (ASIC) in boreal autumn exhibits prominent interannual variability since 1979. The physical mechanism responsible for the year-to-year variation of ASIC is investigated through observational data analyses and idealized numerical modeling. It is found that the ASIC interannual variability is closely associated with the anomalous meridional circulations over the Northern Hemisphere, which is further linked with the tropical sea surface temperature (SST) forcing. A tropics-wide SST cooling anomaly leads to an enhanced meridional SST gradient to the north of the equator in boreal summer, generating strengthened and northward shifting Hadley circulation over the Northern Hemisphere. Consequently, the meridional circulations are enhanced and pushed poleward, leading to an enhanced descending motion at the North Pole, surrounded by an ascending motion anomaly; the surface outflow turns into easterly anomalies, opposing the mean-state winds. As a result, positive cloudiness and weakened surface wind speed emerge, which reduce ASIC through changes in the surface latent heat flux and the downward longwave radiation.


Arctic sea ice variability interannual variability tropical forcing meridional circulations 


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This work was supported by the International Pacific Research Center that is partially sponsored by the Japan Agency for Marine–Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC). This is SOEST contribution number 9871, IPRC contribution number 1225, and ESMC contribution number 135.


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Copyright information

© The Chinese Meteorological Society and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Climate Dynamics Research Center and Earth System Modeling Center, International Laboratory on Climate and Environment ChangeNanjing University of Information Science & TechnologyNanjingChina
  2. 2.Department of Atmospheric SciencesUniversity of HawaiiHonoluluUSA

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