As such, consensual methods to reduce uncertainty in projections are lacking. Here, using the CMIP5 ensemble, we propose a process-oriented approach to revisit this issue. We show that intermodel differences in sea-ice loss and, more generally, in simulated sea-ice variability, can be traced to differences in the simulation of seasonal growth and melt. The way these processes are simulated is relatively independent of the complexity of the sea-ice model used, but rather a strong function of the background thickness. The larger role played by thermodynamic processes as sea ice thins further suggests that the recent and projected reductions in sea-ice thickness induce a transition of the Arctic towards a state with enhanced volume seasonality but reduced interannual volume variability and persistence, before summer ice-free conditions eventually occur. These results prompt modelling groups to focus their priorities on the reduction of sea-ice thickness biases.