Recent changes in the Arctic melt season
Abstract:Melt-season duration, melt-onset and freeze-up dates are derived from satellite passive microwave data and analyzed from 1979 to 2005 over Arctic sea ice. Results indicate a shift towards a longer melt season, particularly north of Alaska and Siberia, corresponding to large retreats of sea ice observed in these regions. Although there is large interannual and regional variability in the length of the melt season, the Arctic is experiencing an overall lengthening of the melt season at a rate of about 2 weeks decade −1. In fact, all regions in the Arctic (except for the central Arctic) have statistically significant (at the 99% level or higher) longer melt seasons by >1 week decade −1. The central Arctic shows a statistically significant trend (at the 98% level) of 5.4 days decade −1. In 2005 the Arctic experienced its longest melt season, corresponding with the least amount of sea ice since 1979 and the warmest temperatures since the 1880s. Overall, the length of the melt season is inversely correlated with the lack of sea ice seen in September north of Alaska and Siberia, with a mean correlation of −0.8.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: November 1, 2006
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