Antarctic sea ice response to weather and climate modes of variability
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The relationship between climate modes and Antarctic sea ice is explored by separating the variability into intraseasonal, interannual, and decadal time scales. Cross spectral analysis shows that geopotential height and Antarctic sea ice extent are most coherent at periods between about 20 and 40 days (the intraseasonal time scale). In this period range, where the atmospheric circulation and the sea ice extent are most tightly coupled, sea ice variability responds strongly to Rossby waves with the structure of the Pacific-South American (PSA) pattern. The PSA pattern in this time scale is not directly related to the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) nor the Southern Annular Mode (SAM), which have received much attention for explaining Antarctic sea ice variability. On the interannual time scale, ENSO and SAM are important, but a large fraction of sea ice variance can also be explained by Rossby wave-like structures in the Drake Passage region. After regressing out the sea ice extent variability associated with ENSO, the observed positive sea ice trends in Ross Sea and Indian Ocean during the satellite era become statistically insignificant. Regressing out SAM makes the sea ice trend in the Indian Ocean insignificant. Thus, the positive trends in sea ice in the Ross Sea and the Indian Ocean sectors may be explained by the variability and decadal trends of known interannual climate modes.
- Atmospheric sciences