The pattern of recent surface warming observed in the Arctic exhibits both polar amplification and a strong relation with trends in the Arctic Oscillation mode of atmospheric circulation. Paleoclimate analyses indicate that Arctic surface temperatures were higher during the 20th century than during the preceding few centuries and that polar amplification is a common feature of the past. Paleoclimate evidence for Holocene variations in the Arctic Oscillation is mixed. Current understanding of physical mechanisms controlling atmospheric dynamics suggests that anthropogenic influences could have forced the recent trend in the Arctic Oscillation, but simulations with global climate models do not agree. In most simulations, the trend in the Arctic Oscillation is much weaker than observed. In addition, the simulated warming tends to be largest in autumn over the Arctic Ocean, whereas observed warming appears to be largest in winter and spring over the continents.