The influence of spatial surface temperature changes over the Arctic Ocean on the 2-m air temperature variability is estimated using backward trajectories based on ERA-Interim and the JRA25 wind fields. They are initiated at Alert, Barrow and at the Tara drifting station. Three different methods are used. The first one compares mean ice surface temperatures along the trajectories to the observed 2-m air temperatures at the stations. The second one correlates the observed temperatures to air temperatures obtained using a simple Lagrangian box model which only includes the effect of sensible heat fluxes. For the third method, mean sensible heat fluxes from the model are correlated with the difference of the air temperatures at the model starting point and the observed temperatures at the stations. The calculations are based on MODIS ice surface temperatures and four different sets of ice concentration derived from SSM/I and AMSR-E data. Under nearly cloud free conditions, up to 90% of the 2-m air temperature variance can be explained for Alert, and 60% for Barrow using these methods. The differences are attributed to the different ice conditions, which are characterized by high ice concentration around Alert and lower ice concentration near Barrow. These results are robust for the different sets of reanalyses and ice concentration data. Near-surface winds of both reanalyses show a large inconsistency in the Central Arctic, which leads to a large difference in the correlations between modeled and observed 2-m air temperatures at Tara. Explained variances amount to 70% using JRA and only 45% using ERA. The results also suggest that near-surface temperatures at a given site are influenced by the variability of surface temperatures in a domain of about 150 to 350 km radius around the site.