Observations show that increased Arctic cloud cover in the spring is linked with sea ice decline. As the atmosphere and sea ice can influence each other, which one plays the leading role in spring remains unclear. Here we demonstrate, through observational data diagnosis and numerical modeling, that there is active coupling between the atmosphere and sea ice in early spring. Sea ice melting and thus the presence of more open water lead to stronger evaporation and promote cloud formation that increases downward longwave flux, leading to even more ice melt. Spring clouds are a driving force in the disappearance of sea ice and displacing the mechanism of atmosphere-sea ice coupling from April to June. These results suggest the need to accurately model interactions of Arctic clouds and radiation in Earth System Models in order to improve projections of the future of the Arctic.
- Arctic sea ice retreat
- atmosphere-sea ice coupling
- atmospheric physical processes
- cloud and radiation impact
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Earth and Planetary Sciences