SONG Mirong, LIU Jiping. The role of diminishing Arctic sea ice in increased winter snowfall over northern high-latitude continents in a warming environment[J]. Acta Oceanologica Sinica, 2017, 36(8): 34-41. doi: 10.1007/s13131-017-1021-3
Citation: SONG Mirong, LIU Jiping. The role of diminishing Arctic sea ice in increased winter snowfall over northern high-latitude continents in a warming environment[J]. Acta Oceanologica Sinica, 2017, 36(8): 34-41. doi: 10.1007/s13131-017-1021-3

The role of diminishing Arctic sea ice in increased winter snowfall over northern high-latitude continents in a warming environment

doi: 10.1007/s13131-017-1021-3
  • Received Date: 2016-03-02
  • Large parts of North America, Europe, Siberia, and East Asia have experienced cold snaps and heavy snowfalls for the past few winters, which have been linked to rapid decline of Arctic sea ice. Although the role of reduction in Arctic sea ice in recent cold and snowy winters is still a matter of debate, there is considerable interest in determining whether such an emerging climate feedback will persist into the future in a warming environment. Here we show that increased winter snowfall would be a robust feature throughout the 21st century in the northeastern Europe, central and northern Asia and northern North America as projected by current-day climate model simulations under the medium mitigation scenario. We argue that the increased winter snowfall in these regions during the 21st century is due primarily to the diminishing autumn Arctic sea ice (largely externally forced). Variability of the winter Arctic Oscillation (dominant mode of natural variability in the Northern Hemisphere), in contrast, has little contribution to the increased winter snowfall. This is evident in not only the multi-model ensemble mean, but also each individual model (not model-dependent). Our findings reinforce suggestions that a strong sea ice-snowfall feedback might have emerged, and would be enhanced in coming decades, increasing the chance of heavy snowfall events in northern high-latitude continents.
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