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Decadal changes of wintertime poleward heat and moisture transport associated with the amplified Arctic warming

Abstract

The Arctic warming, especially during winter, has been almost twice as large as the global average since the late 1990s, which is known as the Arctic amplification. Yet linkage between the amplified Arctic warming and the midlatitude change is still under debate. This study examines the decadal changes of wintertime poleward heat and moisture transports between two 18-year epochs (1999–2016 and 1981–1998) with five atmospheric reanalyses. It is found that the wintertime Arctic warming induces an amplification of the high latitude stationary wave component of zonal wavenumber one but a weakening of the wavenumber two. These stationary wave changes enhance poleward heat and moisture transports, which are conducive to further Arctic warming and moistening, acting as a positive feedback onto the Arctic warming. Meanwhile, the Arctic warming reduces atmospheric baroclinicity and thus weakens synoptic eddy activities in the high latitudes. The decreased transient eddy activities reduce poleward heat and moisture transports, which decrease the Arctic temperature and moisture, acting as a negative feedback onto the Arctic warming. Since the increased poleward heat transport by stationary waves is nearly cancelled by the decreased transport by transient eddies, the total poleward heat transport contributes little to the Arctic warming. However, the total poleward moisture transport increases over most areas of the high latitudes that is dominated by the increased transport by stationary waves, which provides a significant net positive feedback onto the Arctic warming and moistening. Such a poleward moisture transport feedback may be particularly crucial to the amplified Arctic warming during winter when the ice-albedo feedback vanishes.

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Acknowledgements

This study is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41621005 and 41875086) and the National Key Basic Research and Development Program of China (Grant No. 2018YFC1505902). We are also grateful for support from the Jiangsu Collaborative Innovation Center for Climate Change. NCEP2 was provided by the NOAA/OAR/ESRL PSD, Boulder, Colorado, USA, and was obtained from the website at https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/. The ERA-Interim data was produced by ECMWF and was obtained from https://apps.ecmwf.int/datasets/. The JRA-55 data was developed by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and is available at https://jra.kishou.go.jp/JRA-55/index_en.html. MERRA-2 is available at https://gmao.gsfc.nasa.gov/reanalysis/MERRA-2/data_access/. The CFSR data was provided by Research Data Archive at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.5065/D69K487J.

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Sang, X., Yang, XQ., Tao, L. et al. Decadal changes of wintertime poleward heat and moisture transport associated with the amplified Arctic warming. Clim Dyn (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-021-05894-7

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Keywords

  • Arctic amplification
  • Poleward heat transport
  • Poleward moisture transport
  • Stationary wave
  • Transient eddy