Arctic Ocean basin liquid freshwater storage trend 1992-2012 Academic Article uri icon


  • Freshwater in the Arctic Ocean plays an important role in the regional ocean circulation, sea ice, and global climate. From salinity observed by a variety of platforms, we are able, for the first time, to estimate a statistically reliable liquid freshwater trend from monthly gridded fields over all upper Arctic Ocean basins. From 1992 to 2012 this trend was 600300 km(3) yr(-1). A numerical model agrees very well with the observed freshwater changes. A decrease in salinity made up about two thirds of the freshwater trend and a thickening of the upper layer up to one third. The Arctic Ocean Oscillation index, a measure for the regional wind stress curl, correlated well with our freshwater time series. No clear relation to Arctic Oscillation or Arctic Dipole indices could be found. Following other observational studies, an increased Bering Strait freshwater import to the Arctic Ocean, a decreased Davis Strait export, and enhanced net sea ice melt could have played an important role in the freshwater trend we observed. Key Points Upper Arctic Ocean liquid freshwater trend 1992-2012: 600300 km3/yr Two thirds of the trend was due to changes in salinity, one third due to layer thickness Covariability of liquid freshwater content and Arctic Ocean Oscillation

publication date

  • February 16, 2014