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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© 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.

Research article 12 Jun 2019

Research article | 12 Jun 2019

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

Influence of Sea Ice Anomalies on Antarctic Precipitation Using Source Attribution

Hailong Wang1, Jeremy Fyke2,3, Jan Lenaerts4, Jesse Nusbaumer5,6, Hansi Singh1, David Noone7, and Philip Rasch1 Hailong Wang et al.
  • 1Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA
  • 2Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM
  • 3Associated Engineering, Vernon, British Columbia, Canada
  • 4Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO
  • 5NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, NY
  • 6Center for Climate Systems Research, Columbia University, New York, NY
  • 7Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR

Abstract. We conduct sensitivity experiments using a climate model that has an explicit water source tagging capability forced by prescribed composites of sea ice concentrations (SIC) and corresponding SSTs to understand the impact of sea ice anomalies on regional evaporation, moisture transport, and source–receptor relationships for precipitation over Antarctica. Surface sensible heat fluxes, evaporation, and column-integrated water vapor are larger over Southern Ocean (SO) areas with lower SIC, but changes in Antarctic precipitation and its source attribution with SICs reflect a strong spatial variability. Among the tagged source regions, the Southern Ocean (south of 50° S) contributes the most (40 %) to the Antarctic total precipitation, followed by more northerly ocean basins, most notably the S. Pacific Ocean (27 %), S. Indian Ocean (16 %) and S. Atlantic Ocean (11 %). The annual mean Antarctic precipitation is about 150 Gt/year more in the “low” SIC case than in the “high” SIC case. This difference is larger than the model-simulated interannual variability of Antarctic precipitation (99 Gt/year). The contrast in contribution from the S. Ocean, 102 Gt/year, is even more significant, compared to the interannual variability of 35 Gt/year in Antarctic precipitation that originates from the S. Ocean. The horizontal transport pathways from individual vapor source regions to Antarctica are largely determined by large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns. Vapor from lower latitude source regions takes elevated pathways to Antarctica. In contrast, vapor from the Southern Ocean moves southward within the lower troposphere to the Antarctic continent, so the contribution of nearby sources also depends on regional coastal topography. The impact of sea ice anomalies on regional Antarctic precipitation also depends on atmospheric circulation changes that result from the prescribed composite SIC/SST perturbations. In particular, regional wind anomalies along with surface evaporation changes determine regional shifts in the zonal and meridional moisture fluxes that can explain some of the resultant precipitation changes.

Hailong Wang et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Using a climate model with unique water source tagging, we found that sea ice anomalies in the Southern Ocean and accompanied SST changes have a significant influence on Antarctic precipitation and its source attribution through their direct impact on moisture sources and indirect impact on moisture transport. This study provides important insights into the response of Antarctic precipitation and surface mass balance to sea ice changes caused by anthropogenic forcing and/or natural variability.
Using a climate model with unique water source tagging, we found that sea ice anomalies in the...