Articles | Volume 9, issue 3
Earth Syst. Dynam., 9, 939–954, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-9-939-2018
Earth Syst. Dynam., 9, 939–954, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-9-939-2018

Research article 04 Jul 2018

Research article | 04 Jul 2018

Moisture transport and Antarctic sea ice: austral spring 2016 event

Monica Ionita, Patrick Scholz, Klaus Grosfeld, and Renate Treffeisen Monica Ionita et al.
  • Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany

Abstract. In austral spring 2016 the Antarctic region experienced anomalous sea ice retreat in all sectors, with sea ice extent in October and November 2016 being the lowest in the Southern Hemisphere over the observational period (1979–present). The extreme sea ice retreat was accompanied by widespread warming along the coastal areas as well as in the interior of the Antarctic continent. This exceptional event occurred along with a strong negative phase of the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) and the moistest and warmest spring on record, over large areas covering the Indian Ocean, the Ross Sea and the Weddell Sea. In October 2016, the positive anomalies of the totally integrated water vapor (IWV) and 2 m air temperature (T2m) over the Indian Ocean, western Pacific, Bellingshausen Sea and southern part of Ross Sea were unprecedented in the last 39 years. In October and November 2016, when the largest magnitude of negative daily sea ice concentration anomalies was observed, repeated episodes of poleward advection of warm and moist air took place. These results suggest the importance of moist and warm air intrusions into the Antarctic region as one of the main contributors to this exceptional sea ice retreat event.

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In austral spring 2016 the Antarctic region experienced anomalous sea ice retreat in all sectors, with sea ice extent in October and November 2016 being the lowest in the Southern Hemisphere over the observational record (1979–present). The extreme sea ice retreat was accompanied by the wettest and warmest spring on record, over large areas covering the Indian ocean, the Ross Sea, and the Weddell Sea.
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