Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-2020-113
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-2020-113

  08 Dec 2020

08 Dec 2020

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal OS.

Freshwater in the Arctic Ocean 2010–2019

Amy Solomon1,2, Céline Heuzé3, Benjamin Rabe4, Sheldon Bacon5, Laurent Bertino6, Patrick Heimbach7, Jun Inoue8, Doroteaciro Iovino9, Ruth Mottram10, Xiangdong Zhang11, Yevgeny Aksenov5, Ronan McAdam9, An Nguyen7, Roshin P. Raj6, and Han Tang11 Amy Solomon et al.
  • 1Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, USA
  • 2Physical Sciences Laboratory, NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado, USA
  • 3Department of Earth Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
  • 4Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 5National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, UK
  • 6Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center and Bjerknes Center for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway
  • 7University of Texas, Austin, Texas, USA
  • 8National Institute of Polar Research, Tachikawa, Japan
  • 9Centro Euro-Mediterraneo per i Cambiamenti Climatici, Bologna, Italy
  • 10Danish Meteorological Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 11University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska, USA

Abstract. The Arctic climate system is rapidly transitioning into a new regime with a reduction in the extent of sea ice, enhanced mixing in the ocean and atmosphere, and thus enhanced coupling within the ocean-ice-atmosphere system; these physical changes are leading to ecosystem changes in the Arctic Ocean. In this review paper, we assess one of the critically important aspects of this new regime, the variability of Arctic freshwater, which plays a fundamental role in the Arctic climate system by impacting ocean stratification and sea ice formation. Liquid and solid freshwater exports also affect the global climate system, notably by impacting the global ocean overturning circulation. In this review paper we assess to what extent observations during the 2010–2019 period are sufficient to estimate the Arctic freshwater budget with greater certainty than previous assessments and how this budget has changed relative to the 2000–2010 period. We include discussions of processes not included in previous assessments, such as run off from the Greenland Ice Sheet, the role of snow on sea ice, and vertical redistribution. We show that the trend in Arctic freshwater in the 2010s has stabilized relative to the 2000s due to an increased compensation between a freshening of the Beaufort Gyre and a reduction in freshwater in the Amerasian and Eurasian basins. Notably, the sea ice cover has become more seasonal and more mobile, the mass loss of the Greenland ice sheet has shifted from the western to the eastern part, and the import of subpolar waters into the Arctic has increased.

Amy Solomon et al.

 
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Amy Solomon et al.

Amy Solomon et al.

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Short summary
Freshwater in the Arctic Ocean plays a critical role in the global climate system by impacting ocean circulations, stratification, mixing, and emergent regimes. In this review paper we assess how the Arctic freshwater budget in the 2010s has changed relative to the 2000s. Estimates from satellites and reanalyses show a stabilization in the 2010s due to an increased compensation between a freshening of the Beaufort Gyre and a reduction in freshwater in the Amerasian and Eurasian basins.