The surface albedo of the Arctic sea-ice zone is a crucial component in the energy budget of the Arctic region1,2. The treatment of sea-ice albedo has been identified as an important source of variability in the future sea-ice mass loss forecasts in coupled climate models3. There is a clear need to establish data sets of Arctic sea-ice albedo to study the changes based on observational data and to aid future modelling efforts. Here we present an analysis of observed changes in the mean albedo of the Arctic sea-ice zone using a data set consisting of 28 years of homogenized satellite data4. Along with the albedo reduction resulting from the well-known loss of late-summer sea-ice cover5,6, we show that the mean albedo of the remaining Arctic sea-ice zone is decreasing. The change per decade in the mean August sea-ice zone albedo is −0.029±0.011. All albedo trends, except for the sea-ice zone in May, are significant with a 99% confidence interval. Variations in mean sea-ice albedo can be explained using sea-ice concentration, surface air temperature and elapsed time from onset of melt as drivers.
Your institute does not have access to this article
Open Access articles citing this article.
Nature Communications Open Access 21 November 2019
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $8.25 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Hall, A. The role of surface albedo feedback in climate. J. Clim. 17, 1550–1568 (2004).
Perovich, D. K. et al. Increasing solar heating of the Arctic Ocean and adjacent seas, 1979–2005: Attribution and role in the ice-albedo feedback. Geophys. Res. Lett. 34, L19505 (2007).
Holland, M. M., Serreze, M. C. & Stroeve, J. The sea ice mass budget of the Arctic and its future change as simulated by coupled climate models. Clim. Dynam. 34, 185–200 (2010).
Riihelä, A., Manninen, T., Laine, V., Andersson, K. & Kaspar, F. CLARA-SAL: A global 28 yr timeseries of Earth’s black-sky surface albedo. Atmos. Chem. Phys. 13, 3743–3762 (2013).
Comiso, J. C., Parkinson, C. L., Gersten, R. & Stock, L. Accelerated decline in the Arctic sea ice cover. Geophys. Res. Lett. 35, L01703 (2008).
Parkinson, C. L. & Cavalieri, D. Arctic sea ice variability and trends, 1979–2006. J. Geophys. Res. 113, C07003 (2008).
Garcia, D. Robust smoothing of gridded data in one and higher dimensions with missing values. Comput. Stat. Data Anal. 54, 1167–1178 (2010).
Perovich, D. K. & Polashenski, C. Albedo evolution of seasonal Arctic sea ice. Geophys. Res. Lett. 39, L08501 (2012).
Markus, T., Stroeve, J. C. & Miller, J. Recent changes in Arctic sea ice melt onset, freezeup, and melt season length. J. Geophys. Res. 114, C12024 (2009).
Maslanik, J. A. et al. A younger, thinner Arctic ice cover: Increased potential for rapid, extensive sea-ice loss. Geophys. Res. Lett. 34, L24501 (2007).
Kwok, R. & Rothrock, D. A. Decline in Arctic sea ice thickness from submarine and ICESat records: 1958–2008. Geophys. Res. Lett. 36, L15501 (2009).
Wang, M. & Overland, J. E. A sea ice free summer Arctic within 30 years: An update from CMIP5 models. Geophys. Res. Lett. 39, L18501 (2012).
Tietsche, S., Notz, D., Jungclaus, J. H. & Marotzke, J. Recovery mechanisms of Arctic summer sea ice. Geophys. Res. Lett. 38, L02707 (2011).
Laine, V. Arctic sea ice regional albedo variability and trends, 1982–1998. J. Geophys. Res. 109, C06027 (2004).
Wang, X. & Key, J. R. Arctic surface, cloud, and radiation properties based on the AVHRR polar pathfinder dataset. Part I: Spatial and temporal characteristics. J. Clim. 18, 2558–2574 (2005).
Serreze, M., Barrett, A., Stroeve, J., Kindig, D. & Holland, M. The emergence of surface-based Arctic amplification. Cryosphere 3, 11–19 (2009).
Stroeve, J., Holland, M. M., Meier, W., Scambos, T. & Serreze, M. Arctic sea ice decline: Faster than forecast. Geophys. Res. Lett. 34, L09501 (2007).
West, A. E., Keen, A. B. & Hewitt, H. T. Mechanisms causing reduced Arctic sea ice loss in a coupled climate model. Cryosphere 7, 555–567 (2013).
Perovich, D., Nghiem, S., Markus, T. & Schweiger, A. Seasonal evolution and interannual variability of the local solar energy absorbed by the Arctic sea ice-ocean system. J. Geophys. Res. 112, C03005 (2007).
Cavalieri, D., Parkinson, C., Gloersen, P. & Zwally, H. J. Sea Ice Concentrations from Nimbus-7 SMMR and DMSP SSM/I-SSMIS Passive Microwave Data, 1982-2009 (National Snow and Ice Data Center, 1996).
Kanamitsu, M. et al. NCEP-DOE AMIP-II Reanalysis (R-2). Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc. 83, 1631–1643 (2002).
Fetterer, F. & Untersteiner, N. Observations of melt ponds on Arctic sea ice. J. Geophys. Res. 103, 24821–24835 (1998).
Hudson, S. R. Estimating the global radiative impact of the sea ice-albedo feedback in the Arctic. J. Geophys. Res. 116, D16102 (2011).
Wang, X. et al. Arctic climate variability and trends from satellite observations. Adv. Meteorol. 2012, 505613 (2012).
Heidinger, A. K., Straka, W. C. III, Molling, C. C., Sullivan, J. T. & Wu, X. Deriving an inter-sensor consistent calibration for the AVHRR solar reflectance data record. Int. J. Remote Sens. 31, 6493–6517 (2010).
Wessel, P. & Smith, W. H. F. A global, self-consistent, hierarchical, high-resolution shoreline database. J. Geophys. Res. 101, 8741–8743 (1996).
The authors would like to thank the CM SAF project of EUMETSAT for financial support. We would also like to thank Wavelab authors at Stanford University for the use of their software. We thank the National Snow and Ice Data Center for the sea-ice concentration data. We thank the NOAA Earth Systems Research Laboratory for the provision of National Centers for Environmental Prediction—Department of Energy Reanalysis 2 data. We also thank T. Markus for the provision of sea-ice melt-onset data. The CM SAF team at the Deutscher Wetterdienst is thanked for the processing of the CLARA-A1-SAL data set. K. Andersson at VTT is thanked for creating the SAL code. Finally, T. Pulkkinen at Aalto University is thanked for advice and discussions.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
About this article
Cite this article
Riihelä, A., Manninen, T. & Laine, V. Observed changes in the albedo of the Arctic sea-ice zone for the period 1982–2009. Nature Clim Change 3, 895–898 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate1963
Feasibility study of miniature near-infrared spectrometer for the measurement of solar irradiance within Arctic snow-cover sea ice
Acta Oceanologica Sinica (2020)
Nature Communications (2019)
Nature Climate Change (2014)