Observed and projected climate warming is strongest in the Arctic regions, peaking in autumn/winter. Attempts to explain this feature have focused primarily on identifying the associated climate feedbacks, particularly the ice-Albedo and lapse-rate feedbacks. Here we use a state-of-The-Art global climate model in idealized seasonal forcing simulations to show that Arctic warming (especially in winter) and sea ice decline are particularly sensitive to radiative forcing in spring, during which the energy is effectively â € absorbed' by the ocean (through sea ice melt and ocean warming, amplified by the ice-Albedo feedback) and consequently released to the lower atmosphere in autumn and winter, mainly along the sea ice periphery. In contrast, winter radiative forcing causes a more uniform response centered over the Arctic Ocean. This finding suggests that intermodel differences in simulated Arctic (winter) warming can to a considerable degree be attributed to model uncertainties in Arctic radiative fluxes, which peak in summer.
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