Arctic sea ice reemergence: The role of large-scale oceanic and atmospheric variability

Mitchell Bushuk, Dimitrios Giannakis, Andrew J. Majda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Arctic sea ice reemergence is a phenomenon in which spring sea ice anomalies are positively correlated with fall anomalies, despite a loss of correlation over the intervening summer months. This work employs a novel data analysis algorithm for high-dimensional multivariate datasets, coupled nonlinear Laplacian spectral analysis (NLSA), to investigate the regional and temporal aspects of this reemergence phenomenon. Coupled NLSA modes of variability of sea ice concentration (SIC), sea surface temperature (SST), and sea level pressure (SLP) are studied in the Arctic sector of a comprehensive climate model and in observations. It is found that low-dimensional families of NLSA modes are able to efficiently reproduce the prominent lagged correlation features of the raw sea ice data. In both the model and observations, these families provide an SST-sea ice reemergence mechanism, in which melt season (spring) sea ice anomalies are imprinted as SST anomalies and stored over the summer months, allowing for sea ice anomalies of the same sign to reappear in the growth season (fall). The ice anomalies of each family exhibit clear phase relationships between the Barents-Kara Seas, the Labrador Sea, and the Bering Sea, three regions that compose the majority of Arctic sea ice variability. These regional phase relationships in sea ice have a natural explanation via the SLP patterns of each family, which closely resemble the Arctic Oscillation and the Arctic dipole anomaly. These SLP patterns, along with their associated geostrophic winds and surface air temperature advection, provide a large-scale teleconnection between different regions of sea ice variability. Moreover, the SLP patterns suggest another plausible ice reemergence mechanism, via their winter-to-winter regime persistence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5477-5509
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number14
StatePublished - 2015


  • Arctic Oscillation
  • Atmosphere-ocean interaction
  • Interannual variability
  • Sea ice
  • Spectral analysis/models/distribution
  • Teleconnections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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