Arctic sea ice is a key indicator of the state of global climate because of both its sensitivity to warming and its role in amplifying climate change. Accelerated melting of the perennial sea ice cover has occurred since the late 1990s, which is important to the pan-Arctic region, through effects on atmospheric and oceanic circulations, the Greenland ice sheet, snow cover, permafrost, and vegetation. Such changes could have significant ramifications for global sea level, the ocean thermohaline circulation, native coastal communities, and commercial activities, as well as effects on the global surface energy and moisture budgets, atmospheric and oceanic circulations, and geosphere-biosphere feedbacks. However, a system-level understanding of critical Arctic processes and feedbacks is still lacking. To better understand the past and present states and estimate future trajectories of Arctic sea ice and climate, we argue that it is critical to advance hierarchical regional climate modeling and coordinate it with the design of an integrated Arctic observing system to constrain models.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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