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The Arctic and Polar cells act on the Arctic sea ice variation

Journal article
Authors W. H. Qian
K. J. Wu
Deliang Chen
Published in Tellus Series a-Dynamic Meteorology and Oceanography
Volume 67
Pages 1-18
ISSN 0280-6495
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 1-18
Language en
Keywords Arctic, Polar cell, Arctic cell, sea ice minimum, stream function, LOW-TEMPERATURE EVENTS, BETA-ADVECTION MODEL, REANALYSIS PROJECT, ERA-INTERIM, CIRCULATION, COVER, CHINA, AMPLIFICATION, VARIABILITY, EXTENT, Meteorology & Atmospheric Sciences, Oceanography
Subject categories Climate Research


The Arctic sea ice has undergone a substantial long-term decline with superimposed interannual sea ice minimum (SIM) events over the last decades. This study focuses on the relationship between atmospheric circulation and the SIM events in the Arctic region. Four reanalysis products and simulations of one climate model are first analysed to confirm the existence of the Arctic cell, a meridional circulation cell to the north of 80 degrees N, by visualising through the mean streamline and mean mass stream function in the Northern Hemisphere. Dynamical analyses of zonally averaged stationary eddy heat and momentum fluxes as well as the global precipitation rate data further confirm its existence. Finally, we found that the change in the Arctic sea ice concentration lags the variations of the descending air flow intensity associated with the Polar and Arctic cells, by about 2 months for the climatic annual cycle and about 10 months for the interannual anomaly. Five Arctic SIM events during the last three decades support this relationship. These results have implications for understanding the relationship between atmospheric circulation and sea-ice variations, and for predicting the Arctic sea ice changes.

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