Impacts of large-scale atmospheric circulation changes in winter on black carbon transport and deposition to the Arctic
Abstract. Winter warming and sea-ice retreat observed in the Arctic in the last decades may be related to changes of large-scale atmospheric circulation pattern, which may impact the transport of black carbon (BC) to the Arctic and its deposition on the sea ice, with possible feedbacks on the regional and global climate forcing. In this study we developed and applied a statistical algorithm, based on the maximum likelihood estimate approach, to determine how the changes of three large-scale weather patterns associated with increasing temperatures in winter and sea-ice retreat in the Arctic impact the transport of BC to the Arctic and its deposition. We found that two atmospheric patterns together determine a decreasing winter deposition trend of BC between 1980 and 2015 in the eastern Arctic while they increase BC deposition in the western Arctic. The increasing BC trend is mainly due to a pattern characterized by a high-pressure anomaly near Scandinavia favouring the transport in the lower troposphere of BC from Europe and North Atlantic directly into to the Arctic. Another pattern with a high-pressure anomaly over the Arctic and low-pressure anomaly over the North Atlantic Ocean has a smaller impact on BC deposition but determines an increasing BC atmospheric load over the entire Arctic Ocean with increasing BC concentrations in the upper troposphere. The results show that changes in atmospheric circulation due to polar atmospheric warming and reduced winter sea ice significantly impacted BC transport and deposition. The anthropogenic emission reductions applied in the last decades were, therefore, crucial to counterbalance the most likely trend of increasing BC pollution in the Arctic.