AGW Observer

Observations of anthropogenic global warming

Papers on Arctic amplification

Posted by Ari Jokimäki on October 17, 2012

This is a list of papers on Arctic amplification. Also general papers on polar amplification and Antarctic amplification are included (most commonly known term for the phenomenon is Arctic amplification which is why it is used in the title). The list is not complete, and will most likely be updated in future in order to make it more thorough and more representative.

Note that there is a separate list of papers on ice-albedo feedback, many of which are relevant to this subject also.

Processes and impacts of Arctic amplification: A research synthesis – Serreze & Barry (2011) “The past decade has seen substantial advances in understanding Arctic amplification — that trends and variability in surface air temperature tend to be larger in the Arctic region than for the Northern Hemisphere or globe as a whole. We provide a synthesis of research on Arctic amplification, starting with a historical context and then addressing recent insights into processes and key impacts, based on analysis of the instrumental record, modeling studies, and paleoclimate reconstructions. Arctic amplification is now recognized as an inherent characteristic of the global climate system, with multiple intertwined causes operating on a spectrum of spatial and temporal scales. These include, but are not limited to, changes in sea ice extent that impact heat fluxes between the ocean and the atmosphere, atmospheric and oceanic heat transports, cloud cover and water vapor that alter the longwave radiation flux to the surface, soot on snow and heightened black carbon aerosol concentrations. Strong warming over the Arctic Ocean during the past decade in autumn and winter, clearly associated with reduced sea ice extent, is but the most recent manifestation of the phenomenon. Indeed, periods of Arctic amplification are evident from analysis of both warm and cool periods over at least the past three million years. Arctic amplification being observed today is expected to become stronger in coming decades, invoking changes in atmospheric circulation, vegetation and the carbon cycle, with impacts both within and beyond the Arctic.” Mark C. Serreze, Roger G. Barry, Global and Planetary Change, Volume 77, Issues 1–2, May 2011, Pages 85–96, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloplacha.2011.03.004. [FULL TEXT]

The impact of the Madden-Julian Oscillation trend on the Arctic amplification of surface air temperature during the 1979–2008 boreal winter – Yoo et al. (2011) “One of the most prominent and important features of climate change is that surface air temperature (SAT) change is greatest at high latitudes. The cause for this Arctic amplification of SAT is uncertain. Using ERA-Interim reanalysis data, we show that Arctic amplification during the past 30 years (1979 to 2008) is linked to the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), the primary mode of intraseasonal variability in the tropics. Specifically, it is shown that interdecadal changes in the frequency of occurrence of individual MJO phases have had considerable influence on the Arctic warming during the boreal winter. During that time period, MJO phases 4–6 exhibited a large increase and phases 1–2 a moderate decrease in their frequency of occurrence. Time lagged composites of the SAT show that MJO phases 4–6, which correspond to enhanced localized tropical heating, are followed 1–2 weeks later by Arctic warming. Similarly, MJO phases 1–2, which are associated with more zonally uniform tropical heating, are followed by Arctic cooling. These relationships between the Arctic SAT and the spatial structure of the tropical heating are consistent with the poleward propagation mechanism of Lee et al. (2011a, 2011b). By incorporating both the trend in MJO phase and the intraseasonal SAT anomaly associated with the MJO, it was found that the MJO-induced SAT trend accounts for 10–20% of the observed Arctic amplification over the Arctic Ocean.” Yoo, C., S. Feldstein, and S. Lee (2011), The impact of the Madden-Julian Oscillation trend on the Arctic amplification of surface air temperature during the 1979–2008 boreal winter, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L24804, doi:10.1029/2011GL049881. [FULL TEXT]

Arctic amplification: can the past constrain the future? – Miller et al. (2010) “Arctic amplification, the observation that surface air temperature changes in the Arctic exceed those of the Northern Hemisphere as a whole, is a pervasive feature of climate models, and has recently emerged in observational data relative to the warming trend of the past century. The magnitude of Arctic amplification is an important, but poorly constrained variable necessary to estimate global average temperature change over the next century. Here we evaluate the mechanisms responsible for Arctic amplification on Quaternary timescales, and review evidence from four intervals in the past 3 Ma for which sufficient paleoclimate data and model simulations are available to estimate the magnitude of Arctic amplification under climate states both warmer and colder than present. Despite differences in forcings and feedbacks for these reconstructions compared to today, the Arctic temperature change consistently exceeds the Northern Hemisphere average by a factor of 3–4, suggesting that Arctic warming will continue to greatly exceed the global average over the coming century, with concomitant reductions in terrestrial ice masses and, consequently, an increasing rate of sea level rise.” Gifford H. Miller, Richard B. Alley, Julie Brigham-Grette, Joan J. Fitzpatrick, Leonid Polyak, Mark C. Serreze, James W.C. White, Quaternary Science Reviews, Volume 29, Issues 15–16, July 2010, Pages 1779–1790, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2010.02.008. [FULL TEXT]

The central role of diminishing sea ice in recent Arctic temperature amplification – Screen & Simmonds (2010) “The rise in Arctic near-surface air temperatures has been almost twice as large as the global average in recent decades — a feature known as ‘Arctic amplification’. Increased concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases have driven Arctic and global average warming; however, the underlying causes of Arctic amplification remain uncertain. The roles of reductions in snow and sea ice cover and changes in atmospheric and oceanic circulation, cloud cover and water vapour are still matters of debate. A better understanding of the processes responsible for the recent amplified warming is essential for assessing the likelihood, and impacts, of future rapid Arctic warming and sea ice loss. Here we show that the Arctic warming is strongest at the surface during most of the year and is primarily consistent with reductions in sea ice cover. Changes in cloud cover, in contrast, have not contributed strongly to recent warming. Increases in atmospheric water vapour content, partly in response to reduced sea ice cover, may have enhanced warming in the lower part of the atmosphere during summer and early autumn. We conclude that diminishing sea ice has had a leading role in recent Arctic temperature amplification. The findings reinforce suggestions that strong positive ice–temperature feedbacks have emerged in the Arctic, increasing the chances of further rapid warming and sea ice loss, and will probably affect polar ecosystems, ice-sheet mass balance and human activities in the Arctic.” James A. Screen & Ian Simmonds, Nature, 464, 1334–1337, 29 April 2010, DOI: doi:10.1038/nature09051. [FULL TEXT]

Contribution of sea ice loss to Arctic amplification – Kumar et al. (2010) “Atmospheric climate models are subjected to the observed sea ice conditions during 2007 to estimate the regionality, seasonality, and vertical pattern of temperature responses to recent Arctic sea ice loss. It is shown that anomalous sea ice conditions accounted for virtually all of the estimated Arctic amplification in surface-based warming over the Arctic Ocean, and furthermore they accounted for a large fraction of Arctic amplification occurring over the high-latitude land between 60°N and the Arctic Ocean. Sea ice loss did not appreciably contribute to observed 2007 land temperature warmth equatorward of 60°N. Likewise, the observed warming of the free atmosphere attributable to sea ice loss is confined to Arctic latitudes, and is vertically confined to the lowest 1000 m. The results further highlight a strong seasonality of the temperature response to the 2007 sea ice loss. A weak signal of Arctic amplification in surface based warming is found during boreal summer, whereas a dramatically stronger signal is shown to develop during early autumn that persisted through December even as sea ice coverage approached its climatological values in response to the polar night.” Kumar, A., J. Perlwitz, J. Eischeid, X. Quan, T. Xu, T. Zhang, M. Hoerling, B. Jha, and W. Wang (2010), Contribution of sea ice loss to Arctic amplification, Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L21701, doi:10.1029/2010GL045022. [FULL TEXT]

Role of Polar Amplification in Long-Term Surface Air Temperature Variations and Modern Arctic Warming – Bekryaev et al. (2009) “This study uses an extensive dataset of monthly surface air temperature (SAT) records (including previously unutilized) from high-latitude (>60°N) meteorological land stations. Most records have been updated by very recent observations (up to December 2008). Using these data, a high-latitude warming rate of 1.36°C century−1 is documented for 1875–2008—the trend is almost 2 times stronger than the Northern Hemisphere trend (0.79°C century−1), with an accelerated warming rate in the most recent decade (1.35°C decade−1). Stronger warming in high-latitude regions is a manifestation of polar amplification (PA). Changes in SAT suggest two spatial scales of PA—hemispheric and local. A new stable statistical measure of PA linking high-latitude and hemispheric temperature anomalies via a regression relationship is proposed. For 1875–2008, this measure yields PA of 1.62. Local PA related to the ice–albedo feedback mechanisms is autumnal and coastal, extending several hundred kilometers inland. Heat budget estimates suggest that a recent reduction of arctic ice and anomalously high SATs cannot be explained by ice–albedo feedback mechanisms alone, and the role of large-scale mechanisms of PA of global warming should not be overlooked.” Bekryaev, Roman V., Igor V. Polyakov, Vladimir A. Alexeev, 2010: Role of Polar Amplification in Long-Term Surface Air Temperature Variations and Modern Arctic Warming. J. Climate, 23, 3888–3906. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/2010JCLI3297.1. [FULL TEXT]

The emergence of surface-based Arctic amplification – Serreze et al. (2009) “Rises in surface and lower troposphere air temperatures through the 21st century are projected to be especially pronounced over the Arctic Ocean during the cold season. This Arctic amplification is largely driven by loss of the sea ice cover, allowing for strong heat transfers from the ocean to the atmosphere. Consistent with observed reductions in sea ice extent, fields from both the NCEP/NCAR and JRA-25 reanalyses point to emergence of surface-based Arctic amplification in the last decade.” Serreze, M. C., Barrett, A. P., Stroeve, J. C., Kindig, D. N., and Holland, M. M.: The emergence of surface-based Arctic amplification, The Cryosphere, 3, 11-19, doi:10.5194/tc-3-11-2009, 2009. [FULL TEXT]

Arctic air temperature change amplification and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation – Chylek et al. (2009) “Understanding Arctic temperature variability is essential for assessing possible future melting of the Greenland ice sheet, Arctic sea ice and Arctic permafrost. Temperature trend reversals in 1940 and 1970 separate two Arctic warming periods (1910–1940 and 1970–2008) by a significant 1940–1970 cooling period. Analyzing temperature records of the Arctic meteorological stations we find that (a) the Arctic amplification (ratio of the Arctic to global temperature trends) is not a constant but varies in time on a multi-decadal time scale, (b) the Arctic warming from 1910–1940 proceeded at a significantly faster rate than the current 1970–2008 warming, and (c) the Arctic temperature changes are highly correlated with the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO) suggesting the Atlantic Ocean thermohaline circulation is linked to the Arctic temperature variability on a multi-decadal time scale.” Chylek, P., C. K. Folland, G. Lesins, M. K. Dubey, and M. Wang (2009), Arctic air temperature change amplification and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L14801, doi:10.1029/2009GL038777. [FULL TEXT]

The Arctic Amplification Debate – Serreze & Francis (2006) “Rises in surface air temperature (SAT) in response to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) are expected to be amplified in northern high latitudes, with warming most pronounced over the Arctic Ocean owing to the loss of sea ice. Observations document recent warming, but an enhanced Arctic Ocean signal is not readily evident. This disparity, combined with varying model projections of SAT change, and large variability in observed SAT over the 20th century, may lead one to question the concept of Arctic amplification. Disparity is greatly reduced, however, if one compares observed trajectories to near-future simulations (2010–2029), rather than to the doubled-CO2 or late 21st century conditions that are typically cited. These near-future simulations document a preconditioning phase of Arctic amplification, characterized by the initial retreat and thinning of sea ice, with imprints of low-frequency variability. Observations show these same basic features, but with SATs over the Arctic Ocean still largely constrained by the insulating effects of the ice cover and thermal inertia of the upper ocean. Given the general consistency with model projections, we are likely near the threshold when absorption of solar radiation during summer limits ice growth the following autumn and winter, initiating a feedback leading to a substantial increase in Arctic Ocean SATs.” Mark C. Serreze and Jennifer A. Francis, Climatic Change, Volume 76, Numbers 3-4 (2006), 241-264, DOI: 10.1007/s10584-005-9017-y. [FULL TEXT]

Amplified Arctic climate change: What does surface albedo feedback have to do with it? – Winton (2006) “A group of twelve IPCC fourth assessment report (AR4) climate models have Arctic (60N–90N) warmings that are, on average, 1.9 times greater than their global warmings at the time of CO2 doubling in 1%/year CO2 increase experiments. Forcings and feedbacks that impact the warming response are estimated for both Arctic and global regions based on standard model diagnostics. Fitting a zero-dimensional energy balance model to each region, an expression is derived that gives the Arctic amplification as a function of these forcings and feedbacks. Contributing to Arctic amplification are the Arctic-global differences in surface albedo feedback (SAF), longwave feedback and the net top-of-atmosphere flux forcing (the sum of the surface flux and the atmospheric heat transport convergence). The doubled CO2 forcing and non-SAF shortwave feedback oppose Arctic amplification. SAF is shown to be a contributing, but not a dominating, factor in the simulated Arctic amplification and its intermodel variation.” Winton, M. (2006), Amplified Arctic climate change: What does surface albedo feedback have to do with it?, Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L03701, doi:10.1029/2005GL025244. [FULL TEXT]

Past and future polar amplification of climate change: climate model intercomparisons and ice-core constraints – Masson-Delmotte et al. (2006) “Climate model simulations available from the PMIP1, PMIP2 and CMIP (IPCC-AR4) intercomparison projects for past and future climate change simulations are examined in terms of polar temperature changes in comparison to global temperature changes and with respect to pre-industrial reference simulations. For the mid-Holocene (MH, 6,000 years ago), the models are forced by changes in the Earth’s orbital parameters. The MH PMIP1 atmosphere-only simulations conducted with sea surface temperatures fixed to modern conditions show no MH consistent response for the poles, whereas the new PMIP2 coupled atmosphere–ocean climate models systematically simulate a significant MH warming both for Greenland (but smaller than ice-core based estimates) and Antarctica (consistent with the range of ice-core based range). In both PMIP1 and PMIP2, the MH annual mean changes in global temperature are negligible, consistent with the MH orbital forcing. The simulated last glacial maximum (LGM, 21,000 years ago) to pre-industrial change in global mean temperature ranges between 3 and 7°C in PMIP1 and PMIP2 model runs, similar to the range of temperature change expected from a quadrupling of atmospheric CO2 concentrations in the CMIP simulations. Both LGM and future climate simulations are associated with a polar amplification of climate change. The range of glacial polar amplification in Greenland is strongly dependent on the ice sheet elevation changes prescribed to the climate models. All PMIP2 simulations systematically underestimate the reconstructed glacial–interglacial Greenland temperature change, while some of the simulations do capture the reconstructed glacial–interglacial Antarctic temperature change. Uncertainties in the prescribed central ice cap elevation cannot account for the temperature change underestimation by climate models. The variety of climate model sensitivities enables the exploration of the relative changes in polar temperature with respect to changes in global temperatures. Simulated changes of polar temperatures are strongly related to changes in simulated global temperatures for both future and LGM climates, confirming that ice-core-based reconstructions provide quantitative insights on global climate changes.” V. Masson-Delmotte, M. Kageyama, P. Braconnot, S. Charbit, G. Krinner, C. Ritz, E. Guilyardi, J. Jouzel, A. Abe-Ouchi and M. Crucifix, et al., Climate Dynamics, Volume 26, Number 5 (2006), 513-529, DOI: 10.1007/s00382-005-0081-9. [FULL TEXT]

Polar amplification of climate change in coupled models – Holland & Bitz (2003) “The Northern Hemisphere polar amplification of climate change is documented in models taking part in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project and in the new version of the Community Climate System Model. In particular, the magnitude, spatial distribution, and seasonality of the surface warming in the Arctic is examined and compared among the models. The range of simulated polar warming in the Arctic is from 1.5 to 4.5 times the global mean warming. While ice-albedo feedback is likely to account for much of the polar amplification, the strength of the feedback depends on numerous physical processes and parametrizations which differ considerably among the models. Nonetheless, the mean sea-ice state in the control (or present) climate is found to influence both the magnitude and spatial distribution of the high-latitude warming in the models. In particular, the latitude of the maximum warming is correlated inversely and significantly with sea-ice extent in the control climate. Additionally, models with relatively thin Arctic ice cover in the control climate tend to have higher polar amplification. An intercomparison of model results also shows that increases in poleward ocean heat transport at high latitudes and increases in polar cloud cover are significantly correlated to amplified Arctic warming. This suggests that these changes in the climate state may modify polar amplification. No significant correlation is found between polar amplification and the control climate continental ice and snow cover.” M. M. Holland and C. M. Bitz, Climate Dynamics, Volume 21, Numbers 3-4 (2003), 221-232, DOI: 10.1007/s00382-003-0332-6. [FULL TEXT]

Observationally based assessment of polar amplification of global warming – Polyakov et al. (2002) “Arctic variability is dominated by multi-decadal fluctuations. Incomplete sampling of these fluctuations results in highly variable arctic surface-air temperature (SAT) trends. Modulated by multi-decadal variability, SAT trends are often amplified relative to northern-hemispheric trends, but over the 125-year record we identify periods when arctic SAT trends were smaller or of opposite sign than northern-hemispheric trends. Arctic and northern-hemispheric air-temperature trends during the 20th century (when multi-decadal variablity had little net effect on computed trends) are similar, and do not support the predicted polar amplification of global warming. The possible moderating role of sea ice cannot be conclusively identified with existing data. If long-term trends are accepted as a valid measure of climate change, then the SAT and ice data do not support the proposed polar amplification of global warming. Intrinsic arctic variability obscures long-term changes, limiting our ability to identify complex feedbacks in the arctic climate system.” Polyakov, I. V., G. V. Alekseev, R. V. Bekryaev, U. Bhatt, R. L. Colony, M. A. Johnson, V. P. Karklin, A. P. Makshtas, D. Walsh, and A. V. Yulin (2002), Observationally based assessment of polar amplification of global warming, Geophys. Res. Lett., 29(18), 1878, doi:10.1029/2001GL011111.

Temporal and spatial variation of surface air temperature over the period of instrumental observations in the Arctic – Przybylak (2000) “A detailed analysis of the spatial and temporal changes in mean seasonal and annual surface air temperatures over the period of instrumental observations in the Arctic is presented. In addition, the role of atmospheric circulation in controlling the instrumental and decadal-scale changes of air temperature in the Arctic is investigated. Mean monthly temperature and temperature anomalies data from 37 Arctic, 7 sub-Arctic and 30 grid-boxes were used for analysis. The presented analysis shows that the observed variations in air temperature in the real Arctic (defined on the basis of climatic as opposed to other criteria, e.g. astronomical or botanical) are in many aspects not consistent with the projected climatic changes computed by climatic models for the enhanced greenhouse effect. The highest temperatures since the beginning of instrumental observation occurred clearly in the 1930s and can be attributed to changes in atmospheric circulation. The second phase of contemporary global warming (after 1975) is, at most, weakly marked in the Arctic. For example, the mean rate of warming for the period 1991–1995 was 2–3 times lower in the Arctic than the global average. Temperature levels observed in Greenland in the last 10–20 years are similar to those observed in the 19th century. Increases of temperature in the Arctic are more significant in the warm half-year than in the cold half-year. This seasonal pattern in temperature change confirms the view that positive feedback mechanisms (e.g. sea-ice–albedo–temperature) as yet play only a small role in enhancing temperature in the Arctic. Hypotheses are presented to explain the lack of warming in the Arctic after 1975. It is shown that in some parts of the Arctic atmospheric circulation changes, in particular in the cold half-year, can explain up to 10–50% of the temperature variance. For Arctic temperature, the most important factor is a change in the atmospheric circulation over the North Atlantic. The influence of atmospheric circulation change over the Pacific (both in the northern and in the tropical parts) is significantly lower.” Rajmund Przybylak, International Journal of Climatology, Volume 20, Issue 6, pages 587–614, May 2000, DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0088(200005)20:63.0.CO;2-H. [FULL TEXT]

Recent Variations of Sea Ice and Air Temperature in High Latitudes – Chapman & Walsh (1993) “Feedbacks resulting from the retreat of sea ice and snow contribute to the polar amplification of the greenhouse warming projected by global climate models. A gridded sea-ice database, for which the record length is now approaching four decades for the Arctic and two decades for the Antarctic, is summarized here. The sea-ice fluctuations derived from the dataset are characterized by 1) temporal scales of several seasons to several years and 2) spatial scales of 30°–180° of longitude. The ice data are examined in conjunction with air temperature data for evidence of recent climate change in the polar regions. The arctic sea-ice variations over the past several decades are compatible with the corresponding air temperatures, which show a distinct warming that is strongest over northern land areas during the winter and spring. The temperature trends over the subarctic seas are smaller and even negative in the southern Greenland region. Statistically significant decreases of the summer extent of arctic ice are apparent in the sea-ice data, and new summer minima have been achieved three times in the past 15 years. There is no significant trend of ice extent in the Arctic during winter or in the Antarctic during any season. The seasonal and geographical changes of sea-ice coverage are consistent with the more recent greenhouse experiments performed with coupled atmosphere—ocean models.” Chapman, William L., John E. Walsh, 1993: Recent Variations of Sea Ice and Air Temperature in High Latitudes. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 74, 33–47, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/1520-0477(1993)0742.0.CO;2. [FULL TEXT]

One Response to “Papers on Arctic amplification”

  1. [...] 2012/10/17: AGWObserver: Papers on Arctic amplification [...]

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