Arctic Sea Ice and Its Role in Climate Variability and Change

  • Lawrence A. Mysak


The presence of the Arctic sea ice cover has a profound influence on the polar climate in the Northern Hemisphere (e.g., see Walsh, 1983; Parkinson et al., 1987). First, the ice cover reflects a large fraction of the incident solar radiation because the ice has a larger albedo than that of open water. Secondly, the ice cover acts as an insulating barrier over the relatively warm ocean and thus reduces ocean-to-atmosphere heat exchanges, especially during winter when the Arctic air is very cold. Without an ice cover, the Arctic surface air temperature would be about 10–15 degrees C warmer than today’s annual average temperature in this region. Such a warm Arctic region is believed to have last occurred during the mid-Cretaceous, 100 Myr ago. Thirdly, the ice cover strongly affects the momentum and mass transfers from the atmosphere to the ocean.


Arctic Ocean North Atlantic Oscillation Thermohaline Circulation Great Salinity Anomaly Local Fractional Variance 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lawrence A. Mysak
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and Centre for Climate and Global Change ResearchMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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