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Journal of Climate









The Arctic frontal zone (AFZ) is a narrow band of strong horizontal temperature gradients that develops along the Arctic Ocean coastline each summer in response to differential heating of the atmosphere over adjacent land and ocean surfaces. Past research has linked baroclinicity within the AFZ to summer Arctic cyclone development, especially by intensifying storms that migrate northward from the Eurasian continent. This study uses the Community Earth System Model Large Ensemble in conjunction with an advanced cyclone detection and tracking algorithm to assess how the AFZ, summer Arctic cyclone activity, and the relationship between them respond to warming under the representative concentration pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5) scenario. Under this strong warming scenario, the AFZ remains a significant cyclone intensifier. Changes to the AFZ are largely restricted to June, when earlier snowmelt leads to strengthening of land–ocean temperature contrasts. This strengthening is accompanied by enhanced cyclogenesis along the east Siberian coast, but no change is observed for overall cyclone frequency over the Arctic Ocean. However, simultaneous changes to subpolar storm tracks impact Arctic cyclone activity in all summer months, sometimes in opposition to the impact of the AFZ. In June, the storms migrating poleward to the Arctic Ocean become weaker under RCP8.5, leading to lower Arctic cyclone intensity. In July and August, the poleward shift of the North Pacific storm track enhances cyclone activity in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.


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