Advances in Atmospheric Sciences

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 38–51 | Cite as

Remarkable link between projected uncertainties of Arctic sea-ice decline and winter Eurasian climate

  • Hoffman H. N. CheungEmail author
  • Noel Keenlyside
  • Nour-Eddine Omrani
  • Wen Zhou
Open Access
Original Paper


We identify that the projected uncertainty of the pan-Arctic sea-ice concentration (SIC) is strongly coupled with the Eurasian circulation in the boreal winter (December–March; DJFM), based on a singular value decomposition (SVD) analysis of the forced response of 11 CMIP5 models. In the models showing a stronger sea-ice decline, the Polar cell becomes weaker and there is an anomalous increase in the sea level pressure (SLP) along 60°N, including the Urals–Siberia region and the Iceland low region. There is an accompanying weakening of both the midlatitude westerly winds and the Ferrell cell, where the SVD signals are also related to anomalous sea surface temperature warming in the midlatitude North Atlantic. In the Mediterranean region, the anomalous circulation response shows a decreasing SLP and increasing precipitation. The anomalous SLP responses over the Euro-Atlantic region project on to the negative North Atlantic Oscillation–like pattern. Altogether, pan-Arctic SIC decline could strongly impact the winter Eurasian climate, but we should be cautious about the causality of their linkage.

Key words

Arctic climate Siberian high Icelandic low three-cell meridional circulation 


本研究分析了CMIP5 11个模式对冬季(12月至翌年3月)北极海冰面积在本世纪末的预估的不确定性及其与欧亚环流的关系. 我们通过奇异值分解 (SVD)得出两者强耦合的主模态, 当中反映了北极海冰覆盖范围的预估. 当北极海冰范围减少的预估值比模式集合更大时, 极地环流相对更弱, 其南侧(约北纬60度)出现异常的下沉气流, 乌拉尔山至西伯利亚地区及冰岛一带的海平面气压相对更高. 与此同时, 中纬度的西风带和费雷尔环流 (Ferrell Cell) 相对更弱, 北大西洋海温相对更暖. 在地中海地区, 海平面气压相对偏低而降水相对较多. 此情形下北大西洋气压的差异类似北大西洋涛动的负位相. 总体而言, 北极海冰未来预估的不确定性或会影响到欧亚冬季气候的预估, 不过我们须谨慎分析它们的因果关系.


北极气候 西伯利亚高压 冰岛低压 三圈环流 



The work of HC, NK and NO was supported by grants from the European Research Council (ERC) project (Grant No. 648982) and NordForsk under the GREENICE (Grant No. 61841) and ARCPATH (Grant No. 76654) projects, and the work of WZ was supported by grants from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (CityU 11335316 and 11305715). The authors also benefit from high performance computing grants (NOTUR2, project no. NN 9390K; NORSTORE, NS9064K). The authors acknowledge the World Climate Research Programme’s Working Group on Coupled Modelling, which is responsible for CMIP, and we thank the climate modeling groups (listed in Table 1 of this paper) for producing and making available their model output. We also greatly appreciate the valuable comments given by the two anonymous reviewers, which helped improve the clarity of our results.


  1. Allen, R. J., and C. S. Zender, 2011: Forcing of the Arctic Oscillation by Eurasian snow cover. J. Climate, 24, 6528–6539, Scholar
  2. Årthun, M., T. Eldevik, L. H. Smedsrud, Ø. Skagseth, and R. B. Ingvaldsen, 2012: Quantifying the influence of Atlantic heat on Barents Sea ice variability and retreat. J. Climate, 25, 4736–4743, Scholar
  3. Ayarzagüena, B., and J. A. Screen, 2016: Future Arctic sea ice loss reduces severity of cold air outbreaks in midlatitudes. Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, 2801–2809, Scholar
  4. Barnes, E. A., and L. M. Polvani, 2015: CMIP5 projections of Arctic amplification, of the North American/North Atlantic circulation, and of their relationship. J. Climate, 28, 5254–5271, Scholar
  5. Barnes, E. A., and J. A. Screen, 2015: The impact of Arctic warming on the midlatitude jet-stream: Can it? Has it? Will it? WIREs Climate Change, 6, 277–286, Scholar
  6. Bintanja, R., and F. M. Selten, 2014: Future increases in Arctic precipitation linked to local evaporation and sea-ice retreat. Nature, 509, 479–482, Scholar
  7. Blackport, R., and P. J. Kushner, 2017: Isolating the atmospheric circulation response to Arctic sea ice loss in the coupled climate system. J. Climate, 30, 2163–2185, Scholar
  8. Bretherton, C. S., C. Smith, and J. M. Wallace, 1992: An intercomparison of methods for finding coupled patterns in climate data. J. Climate, 5, 541–560,<0541:AIOMFF>2.0.CO;2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chang, C.-P., Z. Wang, and H. Hendon, 2006: The Asian winter monsoon. The Asian Monsoon, B. Wang, Ed., Springer, 89–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chen, H.W., F. Q. Zhang, and R. B. Alley, 2016: The robustness of midlatitude weather pattern changes due to Arctic sea ice loss. J. Climate, 29, 7831–7849, Scholar
  11. Cheng, W., J. C. H. Chiang, and D. X. Zhang, 2013: Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) in CMIP5 models: RCP and historical simulations. J. Climate, 26, 7187–7197, Scholar
  12. Cohen, J. L., J. C. Furtado, M. A. Barlow, V. A. Alexeev, and J. E. Cherry, 2012: Arctic warming, increasing snow cover and widespread boreal winter cooling. Environmental Research Letters, 7, 014007, Scholar
  13. Cohen, J. L., and Coauthors, 2014: Recent Arctic amplification and extreme mid-latitude weather. Nature Geoscience, 7, 627–637, Scholar
  14. Collins, M., and Coauthors, 2013: Long-term climate change: Projections, commitments and irreversibility. Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, T. F. Stocker et al., Eds., Cambridge University Press, 1029–1136.Google Scholar
  15. Deser, C., R. Tomas, M. Alexander, and D. Lawrence, 2010: The seasonal atmospheric response to projected Arctic sea ice loss in the late twenty-first century. J. Climate, 23, 333–351, Scholar
  16. Deser, C., L. T. Sun, R. A. Tomas, and J. Screen, 2016: Does ocean coupling matter for the northern extratropical response to projected Arctic sea ice loss? Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, 2149–2157, Scholar
  17. Ding, Q. H., J. M. Wallace, D. S. Battisti, E. J. Steig, A. J. E. Gallant, H.-J. Kim, and L. Geng, 2014: Tropical forcing of the recent rapid Arctic warming in northeastern Canada and Greenland. Nature, 509, 209–212, Scholar
  18. Ding, Y. H., 1994: Monsoons over China. Kluwer Academic Publishers, 420 pp.Google Scholar
  19. Gao, Y. Q., and Coauthors, 2015: Arctic sea ice and Eurasian climate: A review. Adv. Atmos. Sci., 32, 92–114, Scholar
  20. Graversen, R. G., T. Mauritsen, M. Tjernström, E. Källén, and G. Svensson, 2008: Vertical structure of recent Arctic warming. Nature, 451, 53–56, Scholar
  21. Harvey, B. J., L. C. Shaffrey, and T. J. Woollings, 2015: Deconstructing the climate change response of the Northern Hemisphere wintertime storm tracks. Climate Dyn., 45, 2847–2860, Scholar
  22. Hodson, D. L. R., S. P. E. Keeley, A. West, J. Ridley, E. Hawkins, and H. T. Hewitt, 2013: Identifying uncertainties in Arctic climate change projections. Climate Dyn., 40, 2849–2865, Scholar
  23. Honda, M., J. Inoue, and S. Yamane, 2009: Influence of low Arctic sea-ice minima on anomalously cold Eurasian winters. Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L08707, Scholar
  24. Hoskins, B. J., and D. J. Karoly, 1981: The steady linear response of a spherical atmosphere to thermal and orographic forcing. J. Atmos. Sci., 38, 1179–1196,<1179:TSLROA>2.0.CO;2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jaiser, R., K. Dethloff, D. Handorf, A. Rinke, and J. Cohen, 2012: Impact of sea ice cover changes on the Northern Hemisphere atmospheric winter circulation. Tellus A, 64, 11595, Scholar
  26. Jung, O., M.-K. Sung, K. Sato, Y.-K. Lim, S.-J. Kim, E.-H. Baek, and B.-M. Kim, 2017: How does the SST variability over the western North Atlantic Ocean control Arctic warming over the Barents-Kara Seas? Environmental Research Letters, 12, 034021, Scholar
  27. Kang, S. M., I. M. Held, D. M. W. Frierson, and M. Zhao, 2008: The response of the ITCZ to extratropical thermal forcing: Idealized slab-ocean experiments with a GCM. J. Climate, 21, 3521–3532, Scholar
  28. Kim, B.-M., and Coauthors, 2014: Weakening of the stratospheric polar vortex by Arctic sea-ice loss. Nature Communications, 5, 4646, Scholar
  29. King, M. P., M. Hell, and N. Keenlyside, 2016: Investigation of the atmospheric mechanisms related to the autumn sea ice and winter circulation link in the Northern Hemisphere. Climate Dyn., 46, 1185–1195, Scholar
  30. Kug, J.-S., J.-H. Jeong, Y.-S. Jang, B.-M. Kim, C. K. Folland, S.-K. Min, and S.-W. Son, 2015: Two distinct influences of Arctic warming on cold winters over North America and East Asia. Nature Geoscience, 8, 759–762, Scholar
  31. Magnusdottir, G., C. Deser, and R. Saravanan, 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. Climate, 17, 857–876,<0857:TEONAS>2.0.CO;2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mahlstein, I., and R. Knutti, 2011: Ocean heat transport as a cause for model uncertainty in projected Arctic warming. J. Climate, 24, 1451–1460, Scholar
  33. Manzini, E., and Coauthors, 2014: Northern winter climate change: Assessment of uncertainty in CMIP5 projections related to stratosphere-troposphere coupling. J. Geophys. Res., 119, 7979–7998, Scholar
  34. McCusker, K. E., J. C. Fyfe, and M. Sigmond, 2016: Twenty-five winters of unexpected Eurasian cooling unlikely due to Arctic sea-ice loss. Nature Geoscience, 9, 838–843, Scholar
  35. Meleshko, V. P., O. M. Johannessen, A. V. Baidin, T. V. Pavlova, and V. A. Govorkova, 2016: Arctic amplification: Does it impact the polar jet stream? Tellus A, 68, 32330, Scholar
  36. Mori, M., M. Watanabe, H. Shiogama, J. Inoue, and M. Kimoto, 2014: Robust Arctic sea-ice influence on the frequent Eurasian cold winters in past decades. Nature Geoscience, 7, 869–873, Scholar
  37. Nakamura, T., K. Yamazaki, K. Iwamoto, M. Honda, Y. Miyoshi, Y. Ogawa, and J. Ukita, 2015: A negative phase shift of the winter AO/NAO due to the recent Arctic sea-ice reduction in late autumn. J. Geophys. Res., 120, 3209–3227, Scholar
  38. Nummelin, A., C. Li, and P. J. Hezel, 2017: Connecting ocean heat transport changes from the midlatitudes to the Arctic Ocean. Geophys. Res. Lett., 44, 1899–1908, Scholar
  39. Omrani, N.-E., J. Bader, N. S. Keenlyside, and E. Manzini, 2016: Troposphere-stratosphere response to large-scale North Atlantic Ocean variability in an atmosphere/ocean coupled model. Climate Dyn., 46, 1397–1415, Scholar
  40. Omrani, N.-E., N. S. Keenlyside, J. Bader, and E. Manzini, 2014: Stratosphere key for wintertime atmospheric response to warm Atlantic decadal conditions. Climate Dyn., 42, 649–663, Scholar
  41. Overland, J. E., and M. Y. Wang, 2010: Large-scale atmospheric circulation changes are associated with the recent loss of Arctic sea ice. Tellus A, 62, 1–9, Scholar
  42. Overland, J., J. A. Francis, R. Hall, E. Hanna, S.-J. Kim, and T. Vihma, 2015: The melting Arctic and midlatitude weather patterns: Are they connected? J. Climate, 28, 7917–7932, Scholar
  43. Panagiotopoulos, F., M. Shahgedanova, A. Hannachi, and D. B. Stephenson, 2005: Observed trends and teleconnections of the Siberian high: A recently declining center of action. J. Climate, 18, 1411–1422, Scholar
  44. Peings, Y., and G. Magnusdottir, 2014: Response of the wintertime Northern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation to current and projected Arctic sea ice decline: A numerical study with CAM5. J. Climate, 27, 244–264, Scholar
  45. Petoukhov, V., and V. A. Semenov, 2010: A link between reduced Barents-Kara sea ice and cold winter extremes over northern continents. J. Geophys. Res., 115, D21111, Scholar
  46. Reintges, A., T. Martin, M. Latif, and N. S. Keenlyside, 2017: Uncertainty in twenty-first century projections of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation in CMIP3 and CMIP5 models. Climate Dyn., 49, 1495–1511, Scholar
  47. Sato, K., J. Inoue, and M. Watanabe, 2014: Influence of the Gulf Stream on the Barents Sea ice retreat and Eurasian coldness during early winter. Environmental Research Letters, 9, 084009, Scholar
  48. Rogers, J. C., 1997: North Atlantic storm track variability and its association to the North Atlantic Oscillation and climate variability of Northern Europe. J. Climate, 10, 1635–1647,<1635:NASTVA>2.0.CO;2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Screen, J. A., 2014: Arctic amplification decreases temperature variance in northern mid- to high-latitudes. Nat. Clim. Change, 4, 577–582, Scholar
  50. Screen, J. A., 2017: Simulated atmospheric response to regional and pan-Arctic sea ice loss. J. Climate, 30, 3945–3962, Scholar
  51. Screen, J. A., and I. Simmonds, 2010: The central role of diminishing sea ice in recent Arctic temperature amplification. Nature, 464, 1334–1337, Scholar
  52. Screen, J. A., and J. A. Francis, 2016: Contribution of sea-ice loss to Arctic amplification is regulated by Pacific Ocean decadal variability. Nat. Clim. Change, 6, 856–860, Scholar
  53. Seidel, D. J., Q. Fu, W. J. Randel, and T. J. Reichler, 2008: Widening of the tropical belt in a changing climate. Nature Geoscience, 1, 21–24, Scholar
  54. Sokolova, E., K. Dethloff, A. Rinke, and A. Benkel, 2007: Planetary and synoptic scale adjustment of the Arctic atmosphere to sea ice cover changes. Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L17816, Scholar
  55. Sorokina, S. A., C. Li, J. J. Wettstein, and N. G. Kvamstø, 2016: Observed atmospheric coupling between Barents sea ice and the warm-Arctic cold-Siberian anomaly pattern. J. Climate, 29, 495–511, Scholar
  56. Thompson, D. W. J., and J. M. Wallace, 1998: The Arctic Oscillation signature in the wintertime geopotential height and temperature field. Geophys. Res. Lett., 25, 1297–1300, Scholar
  57. Tokinaga, H., S.-P. Xie, and H. Mukougawa, 2017: Early 20thcentury Arctic warming intensified by Pacific and Atlantic multidecadal variability. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci, 114, 6227–6232, Scholar
  58. Trenberth, K. E., J. T. Fasullo, G. Branstator, and A. S. Phillips, 2014: Seasonal aspects of the recent pause in surface warming. Nat. Clim. Change, 4, 911–916, Scholar
  59. Vihma, T., 2014: Effects of Arctic sea ice decline on weather and climate: A review. Surveys in Geophysics, 35, 1175–1214, Scholar
  60. Wallace, J. M., C. Smith, and C. S. Bretherton, 1992: Singular value decomposition of wintertime sea surface temperature and 500-mb height anomalies. J. Climate, 5, 561–576,<0561:SVDOWS>2.0.CO;2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Wang, C. Z., L. P. Zhang, S.-K. Lee, L. X. Wu, and C. R. Mechoso, 2014: A global perspective on CMIP5 climate model biases. Nat. Clim. Change, 4, 201–205, Scholar
  62. Wang, M. Y., and J. E. Overland, 2012: A sea ice free summer Arctic within 30 years: An update from CMIP5 models. Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L18501, Scholar
  63. Woollings, T., J. M. Gregory, J. G. Pinto, M. Reyers, and D. J. Brayshaw, 2012: Response of the North Atlantic storm track to climate change shaped by ocean-atmosphere coupling. Nature Geoscience, 5, 313–317, Scholar
  64. Yang, S. T., and J. H. Christensen, 2012: Arctic sea ice reduction and European cold winters in CMIP5 climate change experiments. Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L20707, Scholar
  65. Zhang, P. F., Y. T. Wu, and K. L. Smith, 2017: Prolonged effect of the stratospheric pathway in linking Barents-Kara Sea sea ice variability to the midlatitude circulation in a simplified model. Climate Dyn., (in press)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author 2018

Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriatecredit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hoffman H. N. Cheung
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Noel Keenlyside
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Nour-Eddine Omrani
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wen Zhou
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Geophysical InstituteUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  2. 2.Bjerknes Centre for Climate ResearchUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  3. 3.Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing CenterBergenNorway
  4. 4.Guy Carpenter Asia-Pacific Climate Impact Centre, School of Energy and EnvironmentCity University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  5. 5.City University of Hong Kong Shenzhen Research InstituteShenzhenChina

Personalised recommendations