Mid-Holocene climate was characterized by strong summer solar heating that decreased Arctic sea ice cover. Motivated by recent studies identifying Arctic sea ice loss as a key driver of future climate change, we separate the influences of Arctic sea ice loss on mid-Holocene climate. By performing idealized climate model perturbation experiments, we show that Arctic sea ice loss causes zonally asymmetric surface temperature responses especially in winter: sea ice loss warms North America and the North Pacific, which would otherwise be much colder due to weaker winter insolation. In contrast, over East Asia, sea ice loss slightly decreases the temperature in early winter. These temperature responses are associated with the weakening of mid-high latitude westerlies and polar stratospheric warming. Sea ice loss also weakens the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, although this weakening signal diminishes after 150-200 years of model integration. These results suggest that mid-Holocene climate changes should be interpreted in terms of both Arctic sea ice cover and insolation forcing.
In January 2016, the Arctic experienced an extremely anomalous warming event after an extraordinary increase in air temperature at the end of 2015. During this event, a strong intrusion of warm and moist air and an increase in downward longwave radiation, as well as a loss of sea ice in the Barents and Kara seas, were observed. Observational analyses revealed that the abrupt warming was triggered by the entry of a strong Atlantic windstorm into the Arctic in late December 2015, which brought enormous moist and warm air masses to the Arctic. Although the storm terminated at the eastern coast of Greenland in late December, it was followed by a prolonged blocking period in early 2016 that sustained the extreme Arctic warming. Numerical experiments indicate that the warming effect of sea ice loss and associated upward turbulent heat fluxes are relatively minor in this event. This result suggests the importance of the synoptically driven warm and moist air intrusion into the Arctic as a primary contributing factor of this extreme Arctic warming event.
The Holocene thermal maximum was characterized by strong summer solar heating that substantially increased the summertime temperature relative to preindustrial climate. However, the summer warming was compensated by weaker winter insolation, and the annual mean temperature of the Holocene thermal maximum remains ambiguous. Using multimodel mid-Holocene simulations, we show that the annual mean Northern Hemisphere temperature is strongly correlated with the degree of Arctic amplification and sea ice loss. Additional model experiments show that the summer Arctic sea ice loss persists into winter and increases the mid- and high-latitude temperatures. These results are evaluated against four proxy datasets to verify that the annual mean northern high-latitude temperature during the mid-Holocene was warmer than the preindustrial climate, because of the seasonally rectified temperature increase driven by the Arctic amplification. This study offers a resolution to the "Holocene temperature conundrum", a well-known discrepancy between paleo-proxies and climate model simulations of Holocene thermal maximum.
We present high-resolution lead (Pb) concentrations and isotopic ratios from a northwest Greenland snow pit covering a six-year period between 2003 and 2009. Pb concentrations ranged widely from 2.7 pg g-1 to 97.3 pg g-1, with a mean concentration of 21.6 pg g-1. These values are higher than those recorded for the pre-industrial period. Pb concentrations exhibit seasonal spikes in winter-spring layers. Crustal Pb enrichment factors (EF) suggest that the northwest Greenland snow pit is highly enriched with Pb of predominantly anthropogenic origin. The 206Pb/207Pb ratios ranged from 1.144 to 1.169 with a mean value of 1.156, which fall between less radiogenic Eurasian-type and more radiogenic Canadian-type signatures. This result suggests that several potential source areas of Pb impact on northwest Greenland. Abrupt changes in Pb concentrations and Pb isotope ratios were observed and related to seasonal shifts in source regions of aerosol transport. The 206Pb/207Pb isotope ratio increased gradually between 2003 and 2009. The similarity of the three-isotope plot (206Pb/207Pb versus 208Pb/207Pb) between some of our samples and Chinese urban aerosols suggests a steadily increasing contribution of Chinese Pb to northwest Greenland snow.