Arctic Sea Ice

Change in the air

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Science  22 Jul 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6297, pp. 360-361
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6297.360-e

Sea ice near Kulusuk, Greenland

PHOTO: ©INCAMERASTOCK/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

How does atmospheric circulation affect the initiation of seasonal melting of Arctic sea ice? Mortin et al. examined 35 years of satellite and meteorological data to tease out the general controls and explain the large annual variability in timing. They found that melt onset is triggered by high water vapor, clouds, and air temperatures, which act to increase the amount of long-wave radiation down-welling to the ice surface. Early melts occur when these conditions persist for weeks beforehand because of changes in springtime atmospheric moisture transport.

Geophys. Res. Lett. 10.1002/2016GL069330 (2016).

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