Continuously amplified warming in the Alaskan Arctic: Implications for estimating global warming hiatus

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Abstract

Historically, in situ measurements have been notoriously sparse over the Arctic. As a consequence, the existing gridded data of surface air temperature (SAT) may have large biases in estimating the warming trend in this region. Using data from an expanded monitoring network with 31 stations in the Alaskan Arctic, we demonstrate that the SAT has increased by 2.19°C in this region, or at a rate of 0.23°C/decade during 1921–2015. Meanwhile, we found that the SAT warmed at 0.71°C/decade over 1998–2015, which is 2 to 3 times faster than the rate established from the gridded data sets. Focusing on the “hiatus” period 1998–2012 as identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the SAT has increased at 0.45°C/decade, which captures more than 90% of the regional trend for 1951–2012. We suggest that sparse in situ measurements are responsible for underestimation of the SAT change in the gridded data sets. It is likely that enhanced climate warming may also have happened in the other regions of the Arctic since the late 1990s but left undetected because of incomplete observational coverage.

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Wang, K., Zhang, T., Zhang, X., Clow, G. D., Jafarov, E. E., Overeem, I., … Cao, B. (2017). Continuously amplified warming in the Alaskan Arctic: Implications for estimating global warming hiatus. Geophysical Research Letters, 44(17), 9029–9038. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017GL074232

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