Arctic polar vortex splitting in early January: the role of Arctic sea ice loss
The Arctic stratospheric polar vortex usually forms in autumn, reaches its peak intensity in mid-winter and decays in spring. The polar vortex strength and persistence in the winter–spring period play an important role in stratospheric ozone depletion with the return of solar radiation in late winter. The polar vortex breakdown in most cases occurs under the influence of vertically propagating planetary Rossby waves. The increased activity of planetary waves was observed in 1984/1985, 1998/1999 and 2012/2013 and led to the polar vortex breakdown in mid-winter, after which it was not observed for more than a month. In this study, Arctic sea ice loss is considered as the most likely cause of the increased activity of planetary waves resulting in the unusual weakening of the Arctic polar vortex. Arctic sea ice extent was a record low in autumn 1984, 1998 and 2012 in the Beaufort Sea, the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and the Central Arctic.