EGU21-15276, updated on 04 Mar 2021
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Pan-Arctic and regional trends of reflectance, clouds and fluxes: implications for Arctic Amplification

Luca Lelli1,3, Narges Khosravi2, Marco Vountas1, and John Burrows1
Luca Lelli et al.
  • 1University of Bremen, Environmental Physics and Remote Sensing, Bremen, Germany (
  • 2The Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 3NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA

It is now well known that the sea ice extent in the Artic has been shrinking in the past three decades in the period known as the Arctic Amplification. A simple assumption would be that if the sea ice extent has been reduced, then the spectral reflectance at the top of the atmosphere - RTOA - would have also decreased across the Arctic. On the other hand, Arctic reflectivity also largely depends on the presence of clouds, shielding the underlying surface, and on changes of their optical and physical properties. Thus, the assessment of trends of spectral reflectivity and cloud properties are essential to understand those forcings and feedbacks considered drivers of Arctic Amplification as well as the interactions between the components of the Arctic cryosphere. In the reported study we observationally tackle the stated problem investigating changes of RTOA at selected wavelengths making use of spaceborne measurements of the Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment (GOME onboard ERS-2 and MetOp A/B/C) and of the Scanning Imaging Absorption Spectrometer for Atmospheric Chartography (SCIAMACHY onboard Envisat) for the period 1995-2018. We complement this record with cloud properties and fluxes at top of the atmosphere and at the surface, inferred from measurements of the post-meridiem orbits of the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR onboard POES). Although the Pan-Arctic reflectivity has decreased, the analysis of regional trends shows distinct areas where the reflectivity trends diverge. While darkening areas can be attributed to seasonal sea ice decline, an increase of Arctic brightness over sea ice free regions can be largely attributed to changes in the optical properties of clouds. While the multiyear mean of the radiative forcing by clouds points to a TOA cooling and a surface warming, its trends exhibit opposite tendencies. In the last two decades, the cloud radiative effect at TOA is expected to warm the lower latitudes (below 75 N) and to cool the circumpolar belt, while an opposite trend at BOA, amounting to 5 W m-2 per decade, cools the lower Arctic latitudes and warms the permanent sea ice region, this effect being more pronounced in spring months (April to June) than in summer months (July to September).

How to cite: Lelli, L., Khosravi, N., Vountas, M., and Burrows, J.: Pan-Arctic and regional trends of reflectance, clouds and fluxes: implications for Arctic Amplification, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15276,, 2021.


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