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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-318
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-318
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 20 Jan 2020

Submitted as: research article | 20 Jan 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

The Arctic Ocean Observation Operator for 6.9 GHz (ARC3O) – Part 2: Development and evaluation

Clara Burgard1,2, Dirk Notz1,3, Leif T. Pedersen4, and Rasmus T. Tonboe5 Clara Burgard et al.
  • 1Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany
  • 2International Max Planck Research School for Earth System Modelling, Hamburg, Germany
  • 3Institute of Oceanography, Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability, Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
  • 4National Space Institute, Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, Denmark
  • 5Danish Meteorological Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark

Abstract. The observational uncertainty in sea-ice-concentration estimates from remotely-sensed passive-microwave brightness temperatures is a challenge for reliable climate model evaluation and initialization. To address this challenge, we introduce a new tool: the Arctic Ocean Observation Operator (ARC3O). ARC3O allows us to simulate brightness temperatures at 6.9 GHz at vertical polarisation from standard output of an Earth System Model. We evaluate ARC3O by simulating brightness temperatures based on three assimilation runs of the MPI Earth System Model (MPI-ESM) assimilated with three different sea-ice concentration products. We then compare these three sets of simulated brightness temperatures to brightness temperatures measured by the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer Earth Observing System (AMSR-E) from space. We find that they differ up to 10 K in the period between October and June, depending on the region and the assimilation run. However, we show that these discrepancies between simulated and observed brightness temperature can be mainly attributed to the underlying observational uncertainty in sea-ice concentration and, to a lesser extent, to the data assimilation process, rather than to biases in ARC3O itself. In summer, the discrepancies between simulated and observed brightness temperatures are larger than in winter and locally reach up to 20 K. This is caused by the very large observational uncertainty in summer sea-ice concentration but also by the melt-pond parametrization in MPI-ESM, which is not necessarily realistic. ARC3O is therefore capable to realistically translate the simulated Arctic Ocean climate state into one observable quantity for a more comprehensive climate model evaluation and initialization.

Clara Burgard et al.

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Clara Burgard et al.

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Latest update: 23 Feb 2020
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Short summary
The high disagreement between observations of Arctic sea ice inhibits the evaluation of climate models with observations. We develop a tool which translates the simulated Arctic Ocean state into what a satellite could observe from space in the form of brightness temperatures, a measure for the radiation emitted by the surface. We find that the simulated brightness temperatures compare well with the observed brightness temperatures. This tool brings a new perspective for climate model evaluation.
The high disagreement between observations of Arctic sea ice inhibits the evaluation of climate...
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