Interannual SAM Modulation of Antarctic Sea Ice Extent Does Not Account for Its Long‐Term Trends, Pointing to a Limited Role for Ozone Depletion

Polvani, L. M., Banerjee, A., Chemke, R., Doddridge, E. W., Ferreira, D., Gnanadesikan, A., Holland, M. A., Kostov, Y., Marshall, J., Seviour, W. J. M., Solomon, S., & Waugh, D. W.
Geophysical Research Letters2021.


The expansion of Antarctic sea ice since 1979 in the presence of increasing greenhouse gases remains one of the most puzzling features of current climate change. Some studies have proposed that the formation of the ozone hole, via the Southern Annular Mode, might explain that expansion, and a recent paper highlighted a robust causal link between summertime Southern Annular Mode (SAM) anomalies and sea ice anomalies in the subsequent autumn. Here we show that many models are able to capture this relationship between the SAM and sea ice, but also emphasize that the SAM only explains a small fraction of the year-to-year variability. Finally, examining multidecadal trends, in models and in observations, we confirm the findings of several previous studies and conclude that the SAM–and thus the ozone hole–are not the primary drivers of the sea ice expansion around Antarctica in recent decades.

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