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Arctic Sea Ice Loss Enhances the Oceanic Contribution to Climate Change

Since the mid-1990s, there has been a marked decrease in the sea ice extent (SIE) in the Arctic Ocean. After reaching an absolute minimum in September 2012, the seasonal variations in the SIE have settled at a new level, which is almost one-quarter lower than the average climatic norm of 1979–2022. Increased melting and accelerated ice export from marginal seas ensure an increase in the open water area, which affects the lower atmosphere and the surface layer of the ocean. Scientists are cautiously predicting a transition to a seasonally ice-free Arctic Ocean as early as the middle of this century, which is about 50 years earlier than was predicted just a few years ago. Such predictions are based on the fact that the decrease in sea ice extent and ice thinning that occurred at the beginning of this century, initially caused by an increase in air temperature, triggered an increase in the thermal and dynamic contribution of the ocean to the further reduction in the ice cover. This paper reviews published evidence of such changes and discusses possible mechanisms behind the observed regional anomalies of the Arctic Sea ice cover parameters in the last decade.

February 20, 2023