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Regional polar warming linked to poleward moisture transport variability

Richard Bintanja, Rune Grand Graversen,Marlen Kolbe

Polar warming, ice melt and strong precipitation events are strongly affected by episodic poleward advection of warm and moist air (Woods and Caballero 2016 J. Clim. 29 4473–85; Wille et al 2019 Nat. Geosci. 12 911–6), which, in turn, is linked to variability in poleward moisture transport (PMT) (Nash et al 2018 J. Geophys. Res. Atmos. 123 6804–21). However, processes governing regional impacts of PMT as well as long-term trends remain largely unknown. Here we use an ensemble of state-of-the-art global climate models in standardized scenario simulations (1850–2100) to show that both the Arctic and the Antarctic exhibit distinct geographical patterns of PMT-related warming. Specifically, years with high PMT experience considerable warming over subarctic Eurasia and West-Antarctica (Raphael et al 2016 Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc. 97 111–21), whereas precipitation is distributed more evenly over the polar regions. The warming patterns indicate preferred routes of atmospheric rivers (Woods and Caballero 2016 J. Clim. 29 4473–85), which may regionally enhance atmospheric moisture content, cloud cover, and downward longwave radiative heating in years with comparatively high PMT (Scott et al 2019 J. Clim. 32 665–84). Trend-analyses reveal that the link between PMT-variability and regional precipitation patterns will weaken in both polar regions. Even though uncertainties associated with intermodel differences are considerable, the advection of warm and moist air associated with PMT-variability is likely to increasingly cause mild conditions in both polar regions, which in the Arctic will reinforce sea-ice melt. Similarly, the results suggest that warm years in West-Antarctica disproportionally contribute to ice sheet melt (Trusel et al 2015 Nat. Geosci. 8 927–32), enhancing the risk of ice-sheet instabilities causing accelerated and sudden sea-level rise.

Bibliografische gegevens

Richard Bintanja, Rune Grand Graversen, Marlen Kolbe. Regional polar warming linked to poleward moisture transport variability
Journal: Environmental Research – Climate, Volume: 2, Year: 2023, First page: 041003, doi: 10.1088/2752-5295/acee9e

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