Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-925
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-925
11 Apr 2024
 | 11 Apr 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Weather and Climate Dynamics (WCD).

Simultaneous Bering Sea and Labrador Sea ice melt extremes in March 2023: A confluence of meteorological events aligned with stratosphere-troposphere interactions

Thomas J. Ballinger, Kent Moore, Qinghua Ding, Amy H. Butler, James E. Overland, Richard L. Thoman, Ian Baxter, Zhe Li, and Edward Hanna

Abstract. Today’s Arctic is characterized by a lengthening of the sea ice melt season, but also by fast and at times unseasonal melt events. Such anomalous melt cases have been identified in Pacific and Atlantic Arctic sector sea ice studies. Through observational analyses, we document an unprecedented, simultaneous marginal ice zone melt event in the Bering Sea and Labrador Sea in March of 2023. Taken independently, variability in the cold season ice edge at synoptic time scales is common. However, such anomalous, short-term ice loss over either region during the climatological sea ice maxima is uncommon, and the tandem ice loss that occurred qualifies this as a rare event. The atmospheric setting that supported the unseasonal melt events was preceded by a sudden stratospheric warming event that, along with ongoing La Niña teleconnections, led to positive tropospheric height anomalies across much of the Arctic and the development of anomalous mid-troposphere ridges over the ice loss regions. These large-scale anticyclonic centers funneled extremely warm and moist airstreams onto the ice causing melt. Further analysis identified the presence of atmospheric rivers within these warm airstreams whose characteristics likely contributed to this bi-regional ice melt event. Whether such a confluence of anomalous wintertime events associated with troposphere-stratosphere coupling may occur more often in a warming Arctic remains a research area ripe for further exploration.

Publisher's note: Copernicus Publications remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims made in the text, published maps, institutional affiliations, or any other geographical representation in this preprint. The responsibility to include appropriate place names lies with the authors.
Thomas J. Ballinger, Kent Moore, Qinghua Ding, Amy H. Butler, James E. Overland, Richard L. Thoman, Ian Baxter, Zhe Li, and Edward Hanna

Status: open (until 09 Jun 2024)

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Thomas J. Ballinger, Kent Moore, Qinghua Ding, Amy H. Butler, James E. Overland, Richard L. Thoman, Ian Baxter, Zhe Li, and Edward Hanna
Thomas J. Ballinger, Kent Moore, Qinghua Ding, Amy H. Butler, James E. Overland, Richard L. Thoman, Ian Baxter, Zhe Li, and Edward Hanna

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Short summary
The month of March marks the Arctic sea ice maximum when the ice cover extent reaches its peak within the annual cycle. This study chronicles the meteorological conditions that led to the anomalous, tandem March 2023 ice melt event in the Labrador and Bering seas. A sudden stratospheric warming event initiated the development of anticyclonic circulation patterns over these areas which aided northward transport of anomalously warm, moist air and drove their unusual sea ice melt.