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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 22 Nov 2019

Submitted as: research article | 22 Nov 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

Statistical predictability of the Arctic sea ice volume anomaly: identifying predictors and optimal sampling locations

Leandro Ponsoni, François Massonnet, David Docquier, Guillian Van Achter, and Thierry Fichefet Leandro Ponsoni et al.
  • Georges Lemaître Centre for Earth and Climate Research (TECLIM), Earth and Life Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

Abstract. This work evaluates the statistical predictability of the Arctic sea ice volume (SIV) anomaly – here defined as the detrended and deseasonalized SIV – on the interannual time scale. To do so, we made use of 6 datasets, from 3 different atmosphere-ocean general circulation models, with 2 different horizontal grid resolutions each. Based on these datasets, we have developed a statistical empirical model which in turn was used to test the performance of different predictor variables, as well as to identify optimal locations from where the SIV anomaly could be better reconstructed and/or predicted. We tested the hypothesis that an ideal sampling strategy characterized by only a few optimal sampling locations can provide in situ data for statistically reproducing and/or predicting the SIV interannual variability. The results showed that, apart from the SIV itself, the sea ice thickness is the best predictor variable, although total sea ice area, sea ice concentration, sea surface temperature, and sea ice drift can also contribute to improving the prediction skill. The prediction skill can be enhanced further by combining several predictors into the statistical model. Feeding the statistical model with predictor data from 4 well-placed locations is enough for reconstructing about 70 % of the SIV anomaly variance. An improved model horizontal resolution allows a better trained statistical model so that the reconstructed values approach better to the original SIV anomaly. On the other hand, if we look at the interannual variability, the predictors provided by numerical models with lower horizontal resolution perform better for reconstructing the original SIV variability. As per 6 well-placed locations, the statistical predictability does not substantially improve by adding new sites. As suggested by the results, the 4 first best locations are placed at the transition Chukchi Sea–Central Arctic–Beaufort Sea (158.0° W, 79.5° N), near the North Pole (40° E, 88.5° N), at the transition Central Arctic–Laptev Sea (107° E, 81.5° N), and offshore the Canadian Archipelago (109.0° W, 82.5° N), in this respective order. We believe that this study provides recommendations for the ongoing and upcoming observational initiatives, in terms of an Arctic optimal observing design, for studying and predicting not only the SIV values but also its interannual variability.

Leandro Ponsoni et al.
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Leandro Ponsoni et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
The continuous melting of the Arctic sea ice observed in the last decades has proven to bring impacts at regional and global scales. To better understand the amplitude and consequences of such impacts, the monitoring of the total sea ice volume is fundamental. However, in situ measurements in such a harsh environment are far too expensive. In this work, we show that 4-well placed sampling locations are enough to explain about 70 % of the interannual changes in the total Arctic sea ice volume.
The continuous melting of the Arctic sea ice observed in the last decades has proven to bring...