Model resolution influence on simulated sea ice decline
J. O. Sewall
Department of Geosciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA
Received: 03 Sep 2008 – Discussion started: 28 Oct 2008
Abstract. Satellite observations and model predictions of recent and future Arctic sea ice decline have raised concerns over the timing and potential impacts of a seasonally ice-free Arctic Ocean. Model predictions of seasonally ice-free Arctic conditions are, however, highly variable. Here I present results from fourteen climate system models from the World Climate Research Programme's (WCRP's) Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 3 (CMIP3) multi-model dataset that indicate modeled Arctic sea ice sensitivity to increased atmospheric CO2 forcing is strongly correlated with ice/ocean model horizontal resolution. Based on coupled model analyses and ice only simulations with the Los Alamos National Lab sea ice model (CICE), the correlation between declining Arctic sea ice cover and ice/ocean model resolution appears to depend largely on ocean model resolution and its influence on ocean heat transport into the Arctic basin. The correlation between model resolution, northward ocean heat transport, and the degree of Arctic ice loss is independent of ice model physics and complexity. This not only illustrates one difficulty in using numerical models to accurately predict the timing and magnitude of Arctic sea ice decline under increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas forcing, but also highlights one area where improved simulation (of northward ocean heat transport) could greatly decrease the uncertainties associated with predictions of future Arctic sea ice cover.
Sewall, J. O.: Model resolution influence on simulated sea ice decline, The Cryosphere Discuss., 2, 759-776, doi:10.5194/tcd-2-759-2008, 2008.