Twenty-five winters of unexpected Eurasian cooling unlikely due to Arctic sea-ice loss

Nature Geoscience | McCusker et al. [2016]

Surface air temperature over central Eurasia decreased over the past twenty-five winters at a time of strongly increasing anthropogenic forcing and Arctic amplification. It has been suggested that this cooling was related to an increase in cold winters due to sea-ice loss in the Barents–Kara Sea. Here we use over 600 years of atmosphere-only global climate model simulations to isolate the effect of Arctic sea-ice loss, complemented with a 50-member ensemble of atmosphere–ocean global climate model simulations allowing for external forcing changes (anthropogenic and natural) and internal variability. In our atmosphere-only simulations, we find no evidence of Arctic sea-ice loss having impacted Eurasian surface temperature. In our atmosphere–ocean simulations, we find just one simulation with Eurasian cooling of the observed magnitude but Arctic sea-ice loss was not involved, either directly or indirectly. Rather, in this simulation the cooling is due to a persistent circulation pattern combining high pressure over the Barents–Kara Sea and a downstream trough. We conclude that the observed cooling over central Eurasia was probably due to a sea-ice-independent internally generated circulation pattern ensconced over, and nearby, the Barents–Kara Sea since the 1980s. These results improve our knowledge of high-latitude climate variability and change, with implications for our understanding of impacts in high-northern-latitude systems.

Full text can be found here.


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