Impacts of melt season precipitation on early and late Arctic sea ice melt onset

Alexa Marcovecchio, Xiquan Dong, Ali Behrangi, Baike Xi, and Yiyi Huang
Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences
The University of Arizona

This study investigates the impacts of Arctic precipitation (rain, wet snow, and dry snow) on early and late sea ice melt onset during the melting season. It is hypothesized that enhanced precipitation helps to initiate melt onset via the sea ice – temperature – precipitable water vapor feedback loop. For the purposes of this study, we focus on an area bounded by 73º-84º N and 90º-155º E as this area has been identified as having high atmospheric sensitivity to early sea ice melt onset (Huang et al. 2018). Melt onset is derived from Nimbus-7 SMMR and Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) SSM/I-SSMIs products over a time period from 1980 to 2014. To account for spatially and temporally sparse Arctic precipitation observations, we compare the impact of different Arctic precipitation products on our perception of the relationship between melt onset and precipitation. MERRA-2, ERA-Interim, and ERA5 reanalysis products are utilized along with the latest version of the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP). Reanalysis products are also used to analyze variables related to precipitation and applicable sea-ice feedbacks. Preliminary results show that early melt onset is associated with above average precipitation totals while late melt onset is associated with below average precipitation.

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