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https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-314
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-314
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 19 Feb 2020

Submitted as: research article | 19 Feb 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

An inter-comparison of the mass budget of the Arctic sea ice in CMIP6 models

Ann Keen1, Ed Blockley1, David Bailey2, Jens Boldingh Debernard3, Mitchell Bushuk4, Steve Delhaye5, David Docquier6, Daniel Feltham7, François Massonnet5, Siobhan O'Farrell8, Leandro Ponsoni5, José M. Rodriguez9, David Schroeder7, Neil Swart10, Takahiro Toyoda11, Hiroyuki Tsujino11, Martin Vancoppenolle12, and Klaus Wyser6 Ann Keen et al.
  • 1Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, UK
  • 2National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder, CO, USA
  • 3Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Oslo, Norway
  • 4Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL), Princeton, NJ, USA
  • 5Georges Lemaître Centre for Earth and Climate Research (TECLIM), Earth and Life Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
  • 6Rossby Centre, Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI), Norrköping, Sweden
  • 7Centre for Polar Observations and Modelling (CPOM), University of Reading, Reading, UK
  • 8CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Aspendale, Victoria, Australia
  • 9Agencia Estatal de Meteorología (AEMET), Madrid, Spain
  • 10Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis, Victoria, BC
  • 11Meteorological Research Institute, Japan Meteorological Agency, Tsukuba, Japan
  • 12Laboratoire d’Océanographie et du Climat and Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace (LOCEAN-IPSL), Paris, France

Abstract. We compare the mass budget of the Arctic sea ice for 14 models submitted to the latest Climate Model Inter-comparison Project (CMIP6), using new diagnostics that have not been available for previous model inter-comparisons. Using these diagnostics allows us to look beyond the standard metrics of ice cover and thickness, to compare the processes of sea ice growth and loss in climate models in a more detailed way than has previously been possible.

For the 1960–89 multi-model mean, the dominant processes causing annual ice growth are basal growth and frazil ice formation, which both occur during the winter. The main processes by which ice is lost are basal melting, top melting and advection of ice out of the Arctic. The first two processes occur in summer, while the latter process is present all year. The sea-ice budgets for individual models are strikingly similar overall in terms of the major processes causing ice growth and loss, and in terms of the time of year during which each process is important. However, there are also some key differences between the models. The relative amounts of frazil and basal ice formation varies between the models. This is, to some extent at least, attributable to exactly how the frazil growth is formulated within each model. There are also differences in the relative amounts of top and basal melting.

As the ice cover and mass decline during the 21st century, we see a shift in the timing of the top and basal melting in the multi-model mean, with more melt occurring earlier in the year, and less melt later in the summer. The amount of basal growth in the autumn reduces, but the amount of basal growth later in the winter increases due to the ice being thinner. Overall, extra ice loss in May–June and reduced ice growth in October-November is partially offset by reduced ice melt in August and increased ice growth in January–February. For the individual models, changes in the budget components vary considerably in terms of magnitude and timing of change. However, when the evolving budget terms are considered as a function of the changing ice state itself, behaviours common to all the models emerge, suggesting that the sea ice components of the models are fundamentally responding in a broadly consistent way to the warming climate. Additional results from a forced ocean-ice model show that although atmospheric forcing is crucial for the sea ice mass budget, the sea ice physics also plays an important role.

Ann Keen et al.

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Short summary
We compare the mass budget of the Arctic sea ice in a number of the latest climate models. New output has been defined that allows us to compare the processes of sea ice growth and loss in a more detailed way than has previously been possible. We find that that the models are strikingly similar in terms of the major processes causing the annual growth and loss of Arctic sea ice, and that the budget terms respond in a broadly consistent way as the climate warms during the 21st century.
We compare the mass budget of the Arctic sea ice in a number of the latest climate models. New...
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