The Cryosphere (Sep 2014)

Brief Communication: Trends in sea ice extent north of Svalbard and its impact on cold air outbreaks as observed in spring 2013

  • A. Tetzlaff,
  • C. Lüpkes,
  • G. Birnbaum,
  • J. Hartmann,
  • T. Nygård,
  • T. Vihma

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 8, no. 5
pp. 1757 – 1762


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An analysis of Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I) satellite data reveals that the Whaler's Bay polynya north of Svalbard was considerably larger in the three winters from 2012 to 2014 compared to the previous 20 years. This increased polynya size leads to strong atmospheric convection during cold air outbreaks in a region north of Svalbard that was typically ice-covered in the last decades. The change in ice cover can strongly influence local temperature conditions. Dropsonde measurements from March 2013 show that the unusual ice conditions generate extreme convective boundary layer heights that are larger than the regional values reported in previous studies.