Impact of Poleward Moisture Transport from the North Pacific on the Acceleration of Sea Ice Loss in the Arctic since 2002 Academic Article uri icon


  • Arctic sea ice area (SIA) during late summer and early fall decreased substantially over the last four decades, and its decline accelerated beginning in the early 2000s. Statistical analyses of observations show that enhanced poleward moisture transport from the North Pacific to the Arctic Ocean contributed to the accelerated SIA decrease during the most recent period. As a consequence, specific humidity in the Arctic Pacific sector significantly increased along with an increase of downward longwave radiation beginning in 2002, which led to a significant acceleration in the decline of SIA in the Arctic Pacific sector. The resulting sea ice loss led to increased evaporation in the Arctic Ocean, resulting in a further increase of the specific humidity in mid-to-late fall, thus acting as a positive feedback to the sea ice loss. The overall set of processes is also found in a long control simulation of a coupled climate model.

publication date

  • September 2017