Loss of Arctic Sea Ice Raises Temperatures Across Tibetan Plateau

NPJ Climate and Atmospheric Science, 28 March 2022

The decline of sea ice in the Barents-Kara Seas could account for up to one-third of winter warming over the Tibetan Plateau. As global temperatures rise, sea ice loss accelerates across the Arctic, especially in regions such as the Barents-Kara Seas (located to the north of Norway and Russia). The loss of sea ice from the Barents-Kara Seas produces turbulent warm air currents that intensify the flow of southwesterly winds toward the Tibetan Plateau. These southwesterlies reinforce the movement of warm air into the region, which raises temperatures across the Tibetan Plateau, especially during the winter and autumn. The Tibetan Plateau holds thousands of glaciers and serves as the source for many major rivers, including the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers, providing water for 40% of the world’s population. Authors warn that future Arctic sea ice loss will exacerbate winter warming across nearly all regions of the Tibetan Plateau, endangering the reliability of seasonal water supply in much of China and southeast Asia.