Interannual arctic sea ice variability and associated winter weather patterns: A regional perspective for 1979-2014

Hans W. Chen, Richard B. Alley, Fuqing Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Using Arctic sea ice concentration derived from passive microwave satellite observations in autumn and early winter over the 1979-2014 period, the Arctic region was objectively classified into several smaller regions based on the interannual sea ice variability through self-organizing map analyses. The trend in regional sea ice extent (RSIE) in each region was removed using an adaptive, nonlinear, and nonstationary method called Ensemble Empirical Mode Decomposition, which captures well the accelerating decline of Arctic RSIEs in recent decades. Although the linear trend in RSIE is negative in all regions in both seasons, there are marked differences in RSIE trends and variability between regions, with the largest negative trends found during autumn in the Beaufort Sea, the Barents-Kara Seas, and the Laptev-East Siberian Seas. Winter weather patterns associated with the nonlinearly detrended RSIEs show distinct features for different regions and tend to be better correlated with the autumn than early winter RSIE anomalies. Sea ice losses in the Beaufort Sea and the Barents-Kara Seas are both associated with a cooling of Eurasia, but in the former case the circulation anomaly is reminiscent of a Rossby wave train, whereas in the latter case the pattern projects onto the negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation. These results highlight the nonuniform changes in Arctic sea ice and suggest that regional sea ice variations may play a crucial role for the winter weather patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14433-14455
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 27 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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