Evidence for ice-ocean albedo feedback in the Arctic Ocean shifting to a seasonal ice zone

Ice-albedo feedback due to the albedo contrast between water and ice is a major factor in seasonal sea ice retreat, and has received increasing attention with the Arctic Ocean shifting to a seasonal ice cover. However, quantitative evaluation of such feedbacks is still insufficient. Here we provide quantitative evidence that heat input through the open water fraction is the primary driver of seasonal and interannual variations in Arctic sea ice retreat. Analyses of satellite data (1979–2014) and a simplified ice-upper ocean coupled model reveal that divergent ice motion in the early melt season triggers large-scale feedback which subsequently amplifies summer sea ice anomalies. The magnitude of divergence controlling the feedback has doubled since 2000 due to a more mobile ice cover, which can partly explain the recent drastic ice reduction in the Arctic Ocean.

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