In order to assess the strength of the water vapour feedback within Arctic climate change, 15 years of the total column-integrated density of water vapour (TCWV) from the moderate resolution imaging spectrometer (MODIS) are analysed. Arctic TCWV distribution, trends, and anomalies for the 2001–2015 period, broken down into seasons and months, are analysed. Enhanced local spring TCWV trends above the terrestrial Arctic regions are discussed in relation to land snow cover and vegetation changes. Upward TCWV trends above the oceanic areas are discussed in lien with sea ice extent and sea surface temperature changes. Increased winter TCWV (up to 40%) south of the Svalbard archipelago are observed; these trends are probably driven by a local warming and sea ice extent decline. Similarly, the Barents/Kara regions underwent wet trends (up to 40%), also associated with winter/fall local sea ice loss. Positive late summer TCWV trends above the western Greenland and Beaufort seas (about 20%) result from enhanced upper ocean warming and thereby a local coastal decline in ice extent. The Mackenzie and Siberia enhanced TCWV trends (about 25%) during spring are found to be associated with coincident decreased snow cover and increased vegetation, as a result of the earlier melt onset. Results show drier summers in the Eurasia and western Alaska regions, thought to be affected by changes in albedo from changing vegetation. Other TCWV anomalies are also presented and discussed in relation to the dramatic decline in sea ice extent and the exceptional rise in sea surface temperature.
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