Evidence for predictive skill of high-latitude climate due to midsummer sea ice extent anomalies

Shengping He, Erlend M. Knudsen, David W. J. Thompson, Tore Furevik

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Previous work has explored the linkages between Arctic sea ice extent (SIE) anomalies at the end of the summer melt season and high-latitude climate. Here we show that Arctic midsummer SIE anomalies provide predictive skill on time scales of ~2–3 months for high-latitude climate. Midsummers characterized by low SIE are associated with significant positive temperature and easterly wind anomalies throughout the high-latitude troposphere through September and significant positive temperature anomalies at the Arctic surface into October. The inferred predictive skill for autumn climate derives from the persistence of the sea ice field. It is robust throughout the Arctic basin and is supported in climate models from the fifth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project archive and in prediction experiments from the Arctic Predictability and Prediction on Seasonal to Interannual Time scales project. It is theorized that the predictive skill derives from (1) the anomalous storage of heat in the Arctic Ocean during periods of low summertime SIE and (2) the delayed formation of sea ice during the following autumn months.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9114-9122
Number of pages9
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number17
Early online date2 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sep 2018

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