Schematic representation of sea ice retreat, enhanced surface evaporation from the open ocean and the increase in Arctic precipitation (KNMI)
According to Richard Bintanja and Frank Selten, both climate scientists at the KNMI, most of the increase can be attributed to local evaporation. Model results show that sea ice retreat will lead to a strong increase in surface evaporation, possibly even a threefold increase. Until now scientists thought that moisture inflow from lower latitudes was the main cause of the precipitation increase, but this new finding demonstrates that the increase in evaporation associated with sea ice retreat is the most important factor.

The precipitation increase will lead to more snowfall onto Arctic glaciers and ice caps, which slows down melt and can therefore oppose sea level rise. Moreover, the additional precipitation will have consequences for flora and fauna. Climate models also show that more snow can slow down sea ice melt.

Finally, enhanced Arctic precipitation will cause a reduction in the density of the Arctic Ocean surface layers. Models show that this will affect global ocean currents, which will impact the climate outside the Arctic.