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Increased atmospheric river frequency slowed the seasonal recovery of Arctic sea ice in recent decades
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  • Pengfei Zhang,
  • Chen Gang,
  • Mingfang Ting,
  • L Ruby Leung,
  • Bin Guan,
  • Laifang Li
Pengfei Zhang
The Pennsylvania State University

Corresponding Author:pfz5053@psu.edu

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Chen Gang
University of California
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Mingfang Ting
Columbia University
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L Ruby Leung
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
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Bin Guan
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
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Laifang Li
The Pennsylvania State University
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In recent decades, Arctic sea ice coverage experienced a drastic decline in winter, when sea ice is expected to recover following the melting season. Using observations and climate model simulations, we found a robust frequency increase in atmospheric rivers (ARs, intense corridors of moisture transport) over Barents-Kara Seas and the neighboring central Arctic (ABK) in early winter. The extensive moisture carried by more frequent ARs has intensified surface downward longwave radiation and liquid rainfall, caused stronger melting of thin, fragile ice cover, and slowed the seasonal recovery of sea ice, contributing to the sea ice cover decline in ABK. A series of model ensemble experiments suggests that, in addition to a uniform AR increase in response to anthropogenic forcing, the contribution of tropical Pacific variability is indispensable in the observed Arctic AR changes. These findings have significant implications for understanding the rapidly changing Arctic hydroclimate and the cryosphere.
06 Feb 2023Published in Nature Climate Change. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-023-01599-3