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WIREs Clim Change
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Atmospheric moisture transport and the decline in Arctic Sea ice

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Abstract This article contains a review of the transport of moisture to the Arctic and its effect on Arctic Sea Ice Extent (SIE). The review includes a synthesis of our knowledge regarding the main sources supplying moisture to the Arctic, the changes experienced over the last few decades due to variations in the transport of moisture, the factors that control interannual variability, and the inherent contrast in the mechanisms related to the effect of changes in moisture transport on SIE in the Arctic. We note that the precise identification of the moisture sources for the Arctic depends both on the definition of the Arctic region itself and on the approach used to identify the sources, with the remote regions over the extratropical Atlantic and Pacific Oceans being universally important, as are some continental areas over Siberia and North America. This review also reaffirms the absence of any clear agreement regarding the trends in atmospheric moisture transport to the Arctic, and highlights discrepancies between different data sets and approaches in the quantification of moisture transport, implying that its long‐term impact on the intensification of the hydrological cycle in the Arctic remains unclear. We confirm the influence of the major modes of climate variability, planetary circulation patterns, and the changes in cyclonic activity in the variability of moisture transport to the Arctic. We reaffirm that the effect of moisture transport on the Arctic SIE through changes in humidity, cloud cover, and precipitation over the Arctic is a complex scientific problem that requires further detailed study over the decades to come, and we propose some important challenges for future research. This article is categorized under: Paleoclimates and Current Trends > Modern Climate Change
Major modes of climate variability that affect the Arctic region and their configuration associated with the greater transport of moisture toward the Arctic system. The major moisture areas (sources located southward and sinks northward in the Arctic) are shown in brown, connected by the arrows that represent the moisture transport. The North Atlantic oscillation, in blue, in its positive phase (NAO+) and the Ural anticyclonic blocking configuration that favors the entrance of moisture from the Atlantic Ocean (Luo et al., ). The positive phase of the Arctic oscillation (AO+), in red, and in green the Arctic dipole (Overland & Wang, ). L denotes negative anomalies of geopotential height, and H denotes positive anomalies
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Timeline of the main relevant studies of changes in moisture transport and associated trends toward the Arctic domain
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Schematic Arctic moisture transport according to different authors. The main moisture source areas found by Vázquez et al. () for the Arctic system defined by Roberts et al. (), area shown in blue, are represented by the orange filled contours for the annual mean (a), summer (b), and winter (c). Oceanic sources in winter (c) and the continental ones in summer (b) found by Singh et al. () are represented by the striped gray pattern with horizontal and vertical lines, respectively. Longitudinal sectors where the meridional moisture flux (MMF) crosses to the Arctic according to Dufour et al. () (a) at 70°N are represented by the purple lines (MMF higher than 10 kg m‐1 s‐1, and seasonal MMF for summer (b) and winter (c), according to Jakobson and Vihma () at 50°N and Naakka et al. () at 60°N, are represented by the red and green lines, respectively. The blue dashed lines represent the parallels at 50°, 60° and 70°N typically used
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