Record Low Sea-ice Concentration in the Central Arctic during Summer 2010


Title: Record Low Sea-ice Concentration in the Central Arctic during Summer 2010.

Journal: Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, 35(1): 104-113.

Authors: ZHAO J. -P.*, Barber D, S. Zhang, Q. Yang, X. Wang, and H. Xie

Abstract: The Arctic sea-ice extent has shown a declining trend over the past 30 years. Ice coverage reached historic minima in 2007 and again in 2012. This trend has recently been assessed to be unique over at least the last 1450 years. In the summer of 2010, a very low sea-ice concentration (SIC) appeared at high Arctic latitudes—even lower than that of surrounding pack ice at lower latitudes. This striking low ice concentration—referred to here as a record low ice concentration in the central Arctic (CARLIC)—is unique in our analysis period of 2003–15, and has not been previously reported in the literature. The CARLIC was not the result of ice melt, because sea ice was still quite thick based on in-situ ice thickness measurements. Instead, divergent ice drift appears to have been responsible for the CARLIC. A high correlation between SIC and wind stress curl suggests that the sea ice drift during the summer of 2010 responded strongly to the regional wind forcing. The drift trajectories of ice buoys exhibited a transpolar drift in the Atlantic sector and an eastward drift in the Pacific sector, which appeared to benefit the CARLIC in 2010. Under these conditions, more solar energy can penetrate into the open water, increasing melt through increased heat flux to the ocean. We speculate that this divergence of sea ice could occur more often in the coming decades, and impact on hemispheric SIC and feed back to the climate.