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Arctic sea-ice oscillation: regional and seasonal perspectives

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Variability of the sea-ice cover (extent) in the Northern Hemisphere (Arctic and subpolar regions) associated with the Arctic Oscillation (AO) is investigated using historical data from 1901to1997. A principal-component analysis (empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs)) was applied to sea-ice area (SIA) anomalies for the period 1953–95. The leading EOF mode for the SIA anomaly shows an in-phase fluctuation in response to the AO and is called the Arctic sea-ice oscillation (ASIO). Arctic sea ice experiences seasonal variations that differ in timing and magnitude. Four types of seasonal variation are identified in the Arctic sea ice, and are superimposed on long-term interannual to decadal variability. Consistent with the total Arctic SIA anomaly, eight regional SIA anomalies have shown significant in-phase decrease (downward trend) since1970, possibly part of a very long-term (century) cycle. Thus, it is recommended that SIA anomalies in the sensitive seasons be used to better capture interannual, interdecadal and longer (century) variability. Major decadal and interdecadal time-scales of SIA anomalies are found at 12–14 and 17–20 years. In the Sea of Okhotsk, a century time-scale is evident. The reduction rate (negative trend) of the total Arctic sea-ice cover in the last three decades is −4.5% per decade, with the summer rate being the highest (−10.2% per decade). The contribution to this total reduction varies from region to region, with sea-ice cover in the Greenland and Norwegian Seas experiencing the highest reduction rate of −20.2% per decade.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2001

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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