Analyzing links between simulated Laptev Sea sea ice and atmospheric conditions over adjoining landmasses using causal-effect networks

Rehder, Zoé; Niederdrenk, Anne Laura; Kaleschke, Lars; Kutzbach, Lars

We investigate how sea ice interacts with the atmosphere over adjacent landmasses in the Laptev Sea region as a step towards a better understanding of the connection between sea ice and permafrost. We identify physical mechanisms as well as local and large-scale drivers of sea-ice cover with a focus on one region with highly variable sea-ice cover and high sea-ice productivity: the Laptev Sea region. We analyze the output of a coupled ocean–sea-ice–atmosphere–hydrological-discharge model with two statistical methods. With the recently developed causal-effect networks we identify temporal links between different variables, while we use composites of high- and low-sea-ice-cover years to reveal spatial patterns and mean changes in variables.

We find that in the model local sea-ice cover is a driven rather than a driving variable. Springtime melt of sea ice in the Laptev Sea is mainly controlled by atmospheric large-scale circulation, mediated through meridional wind speed and ice export. During refreeze in fall thermodynamic variables and feedback mechanisms are important – sea-ice cover is interconnected with air temperature, thermal radiation and specific humidity. Though low sea-ice cover leads to an enhanced southward transport of heat and moisture throughout summer, links from sea-ice cover to the atmosphere over land are weak, and both sea ice in the Laptev Sea and the atmospheric conditions over the adjacent landmasses are mainly controlled by common external drivers.

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Rehder, Zoé / Niederdrenk, Anne Laura / Kaleschke, Lars / et al: Analyzing links between simulated Laptev Sea sea ice and atmospheric conditions over adjoining landmasses using causal-effect networks. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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