The importance of regional sea-ice variability for the coastal climate and near-surface temperature gradients in Northeast Greenland

Sonika Shahi*, Jakob Abermann, Tiago Silva, Kirsty Langley, Signe Hillerup Larsen, Mikhail Mastepanov, Wolfgang Schöner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The climate in Northeast Greenland is shaped by complex topography and interaction with the cryosphere. Since the regional ecosystem processes are sensitive to atmospheric stability conditions, it is crucial to capture this complexity including adequate cryosphere coupling. This study uses an observational dataset from the Zackenberg region (Northeast Greenland) to investigate the local-and large-scale factors that determine the slope temperature gradient (STG), i.e., the temperature gradient along the mountain slope. A synthesis of automated weather stations, reanalysis, and a regional climate model simulations was used. For all seasons, our results show that snow cover and near-fjord ice conditions are the dominating factors governing the temporal evolution of the STG in the Zackenberg region. Considering large-scale drivers of the STG, we find that temperature inversions are associated with positive 500ghPa geopotential height and surface pressure anomalies over East Greenland. A strong connection between fractional sea-ice cover (SIF) in the Greenland Sea and the terrestrial climate of the Zackenberg region is found. A positive SIF anomaly coincides with a shallow STG, i.e., more positive (inversions) or less negative than the mean STG, since the temperature at the bottom of the valley decreases more than at the top. For example, the mean STG varies by g1/44gkm-1 for a corresponding g1/427g% change in SIF. Reduction in temperature and precipitation (snowfall) during the days with high sea ice also affects the surface mass balance (SMB) of nearby glaciers and ice caps as shown for the A. P. Olsen Ice Cap. During summer, days with high SIF are associated with a positive SMB anomaly in the ablation area (g1/; indicating less melt) and a negative anomaly in the accumulation area (g1/; indicating less accumulation). Based on our findings, we speculate that the local conditions in the Zackenberg region associated with anomalously low sea ice (i.e., a decrease in atmospheric stability) will be more prominent in the future with climate warming.

Original languageEnglish
JournalWeather and Climate Dynamics
Pages (from-to)747-771
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'The importance of regional sea-ice variability for the coastal climate and near-surface temperature gradients in Northeast Greenland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this