Decline of sea-ice in the Greenland Sea intensifies extreme precipitation over Svalbard

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Malte Müller , Timo Kelder , Cyril Palerme


Extreme precipitation over the Svalbard Archipelago in the Arctic can have severe consequences for the ecosystem and society.
In recent years several extreme precipitation events have been observed at Ny Ålesund, a weather station in the north-western part of the Svalbard Archipelago. The most recent observed events in the years 2012, 2016, and
2018 were the highest events in the entire precipitation record from 1974 till today. The key question of our study is whether those recently observed extremes are part of a climate change signal or are a random accumulation of extremes. With a novel approach based on a large ensemble of model simulations, we show that the likelihood of occurrence for extreme precipitation over Svalbard has increased over the last four decades. We find that the likelihood of occurrence is connected to the sea ice extent east of Greenland because the presence of sea ice shields the west coast of Svalbard from the incoming southerly moist air. Our analysis suggests, that in the future with a further decline of the sea ice coverage east of Greenland, the recently observed precipitation extremes will become even more frequent.



Physical Sciences and Mathematics


Extreme arctic precipitation, Sea-ice - atmosphere interactions, Atmospheric Rivers


Published: 2021-10-14 10:47

Last Updated: 2021-10-14 17:47


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Data Availability (Reason not available):
Data used in this study are available from the Copernicus Climate Change Service’s Climate DataStore.

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