EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Variability of summer-time Arctic sea ice: the drivers and the contribution to the sea ice trend and extremes

Mehdi Pasha Karami1, Torben Koenigk1,2, and Bruno Tremblay3
Mehdi Pasha Karami et al.
  • 1Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, Rossby Centre, Norrköping, Sweden (
  • 2Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 3Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

Understanding the variability of summer-time Arctic sea ice at interannual to multidecadal time scales in the midst of anthropogenically forced sea ice decline is crucial for better predictions of sea ice conditions in the future climate and rapid changes in sea ice. Here, we apply time-frequency analysis to study the modes of variability, extreme events and the trend in the September Arctic sea ice in 100–150 year datasets. We extract the non-linear trend for the sea ice area and provide an estimate for the anthropogenic-driven sea ice loss. For the used dataset, the anthropogenic-related sea ice loss is found to have a rate of ~-0.25 million km2 per decade in the 1980’s and accelerating to ~-0.47 million km2 per decade in 2010’s. By assuming the same rate of sea ice loss in the future, and without the contribution of the internal variability and feedbacks, we can approximate the occurrence of summer sea-ice free Arctic to be around 2060. Regarding the dominant modes of variability for the September sea ice, we find that they have periods of around 3, 6, 17, 28 and 55 years, and show what drives these modes and how they contribute to sea ice extreme events. The main atmospheric and oceanic drivers of sea ice modes include the Arctic oscillation and Arctic dipole anomaly for the 3-year mode, variability of sea surface temperature (SST) in Gulf Stream region for the 6-year mode, decadal SST variability in the northern North Atlantic Ocean for the 17-year mode, Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) for the 28-year mode, and Atlantic multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) for the 55-year mode. Results show that changes in the sea ice due to internal variability can be as large as forced changes thus can slow down or accelerate the background anthropogenic-driven sea ice loss. By applying the same method, we also present modes of variability and trend of sea ice in the large ensemble global model simulations of EC-Earth model (SMHI-LENS) for the future climate projections and different climate scenarios.

How to cite: Karami, M. P., Koenigk, T., and Tremblay, B.: Variability of summer-time Arctic sea ice: the drivers and the contribution to the sea ice trend and extremes, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-3492,, 2023.