AbstractWater vapor is critical to Arctic sea ice loss and surface air warming, particularly in winter. Whether the local process or poleward transport from lower latitudes can explain the Arctic warming is still a controversial issue. In this work, a hydrological tool, a dynamical recycling model (DRM) based on time-backward Lagrangian moisture tracking, is applied to quantitatively evaluate the relative contributions of local evaporation and external sources to Barents–Kara Seas (BKS) moisture in winter during 1979–2015. On average, the local and external moistures explain 35.4% and 57.3% of BKS moisture, respectively. The BKS, Norwegian Sea, and midlatitude North Atlantic are the three major sources and show significant increasing trends of moisture contribution. The local moisture contribution correlates weakly to downward infrared radiation (IR) but significantly to sea ice variation, which suggests that the recent-decade increase of local moisture contribution is only a manifestation of sea ice melting. In contrast, the external moisture contribution significantly correlates to both downward IR and sea ice variation, thus suggesting that meridional moisture transport mainly explains the recent BKS warming.The moisture contributions due to different sources are governed by distinct circulation patterns. The negative Arctic Oscillation–like pattern suppresses external moisture but favors local evaporation. In the case of dominant external moisture, a well-organized wave train spanning from across the midlatitude Atlantic to mid–high-latitude Eurasia has the mid–high-latitude components similar to a positive-phase North Atlantic Oscillation with a Ural blocking to the east. Moreover, the meridional shift of the wave train pathway and the spatial scale of the wave train anomalies determine the transport passage and strength of the major external moisture sources.
Journal of Climate – American Meteorological Society
Published: Mar 30, 2018
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