Forty years ago, climate scientists predicted the Arctic to be one of Earth’s most sensitive climate regions and thus extremely vulnerable to increased CO2
. The rapid and unprecedented changes observed in the Arctic confirm this prediction. Especially significant, observed sea ice loss is altering the exchange of mass, energy, and momentum between the Arctic Ocean and atmosphere. As an important component of air–sea exchange, surface turbulent fluxes are controlled by vertical gradients of temperature and humidity between the surface and atmosphere, wind speed, and surface roughness, indicating that they respond to other forcing mechanisms such as atmospheric advection, ocean mixing, and radiative flux changes. The exchange of energy between the atmosphere and surface via surface turbulent fluxes in turn feeds back on the Arctic surface energy budget, sea ice, clouds, boundary layer temperature and humidity, and atmospheric and oceanic circulations. Understanding and attributing variability and trends in surface turbulent fluxes is important because they influence the magnitude of Arctic climate change, sea ice cover variability, and the atmospheric circulation response to increased CO2
. This paper reviews current knowledge of Arctic Ocean surface turbulent fluxes and their effects on climate. We conclude that Arctic Ocean surface turbulent fluxes are having an increasingly consequential influence on Arctic climate variability in response to strong regional trends in the air-surface temperature contrast related to the changing character of the Arctic sea ice cover. Arctic Ocean surface turbulent energy exchanges are not smooth and steady but rather irregular and episodic, and consideration of the episodic nature of surface turbulent fluxes is essential for improving Arctic climate projections.
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