Invariability of Arctic Top-of-Atmosphere Radiative Response to Surface Temperature Changes

Jiwon Hwang, Yong Sang Choi, Hui Su, Jonathan H. Jiang

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3 Scopus citations


Recent studies have used satellite data to estimate the response of top-of-atmosphere (TOA) radiative fluxes to surface temperature changes in the Arctic. The satellite-observed radiative response is indicative of Arctic climate sensitivity that determines future Arctic warming. However, it remains ambiguous whether the satellite-observed radiative response is invariable because the time period covered by satellite data reflects a rapidly changing transient Arctic climate state with considerable sea ice loss. Using NASA's Clouds and Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) observations from 2000 to 2018, this study evaluates the invariability of the radiative response by comparing the radiative response of the high sea ice concentration (SIC) period to that of the low SIC period. The results show that the net radiative response remains approximately unchanged regardless of the SIC (−0.19 ± 0.44 and 0.15 ± 0.16 W m−2 K−1 for high and low SIC periods, respectively). In addition, seven of the 11 models from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) demonstrated that the modeled radiative responses are stable. The ERA-interim reanalysis estimates show that regionally confined changes in individual radiative feedbacks such as albedo, lapse rate, water vapor, and clouds do not vary considerably. Consequently, we infer that the radiative response in the Arctic may remain stable even under rapid Arctic climate change. Hence, the Arctic climate sensitivity can be quantified with present satellite observations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020EA001316
JournalEarth and Space Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020


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