skip to main content

Attention:

The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Friday, May 17 until 8:00 AM ET on Saturday, May 18 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Title: Future trends of arctic surface wind speeds and their relationship with sea ice in CMIP5 climate model simulations
Recent climate change in the Arctic has been rapid and dramatic, leading to numerous physical and societal consequences. Many studies have investigated these ongoing and projected future changes across a range of climatic variables, but surprisingly little attention has been paid to wind speed, despite its known importance for sea ice motion, ocean wave heights, and coastal erosion. Here we analyzed future trends in Arctic surface wind speed and its relationship with sea ice cover among CMIP5 global climate models. There is a strong anticorrelation between climatological sea ice concentration and wind speed in the early 21st-century reference climate, and the vast majority of models simulate widespread future strengthening of surface winds over the Arctic Ocean (annual multi-model mean trend of up to 0.8 m s−1 or 13%). Nearly all models produce an inverse relationship between projected changes in sea ice cover and wind speed, such that grid cells with virtually total ice loss almost always experience stronger winds. Consistent with the largest regional ice losses during autumn and winter, the greatest increases in future wind speeds are expected during these two seasons, with localized strengthening up to 23%. As in other studies, stronger surface winds cannot be attributed to tighter pressure gradients but rather to some combination of weakened atmospheric stability and reduced surface roughness as the surface warms and melts. The intermodel spread of wind speed changes, as expressed by the two most contrasting model results, appears to stem from differences in the treatment of surface roughness.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
2043727
NSF-PAR ID:
10314883
Author(s) / Creator(s):
;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Climate Dynamics
ISSN:
0930-7575
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    The Arctic is undergoing a pronounced and rapid transformation in response to changing greenhouse gasses, including reduction in sea ice extent and thickness. There are also projected increases in near‐surface Arctic wind. This study addresses how the winds trends may be driven by changing surface roughness and/or stability in different Arctic regions and seasons, something that has not yet been thoroughly investigated. We analyze 50 experiments from the Community Earth System Model Version 2 (CESM2) Large Ensemble and five experiments using CESM2 with an artificially decreased sea ice roughness to match that of the open ocean. We find that with a smoother surface there are higher mean wind speeds and slower mean ice speeds in the autumn, winter, and spring. The artificially reduced surface roughness also strongly impacts the wind speed trends in autumn and winter, and we find that atmospheric stability changes are also important contributors to driving wind trends in both experiments. In contrast to the clear impacts on winds, the sea ice mean state and trends are statistically indistinguishable, suggesting that near‐surface winds are not major drivers of Arctic sea ice loss. Two major results of this work are: (a) the near‐surface wind trends are driven by changes in both surface roughness and near‐surface atmospheric stability that are themselves changing from sea ice loss, and (b) the sea ice mean state and trends are driven by the overall warming trend due to increasing greenhouse gas emissions and not significantly impacted by coupled feedbacks with the surface winds.

     
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    The recent Arctic sea ice loss is a key driver of the amplified surface warming in the northern high latitudes, and simultaneously a major source of uncertainty in model projections of Arctic climate change. Previous work has shown that the spread in model predictions of future Arctic amplification (AA) can be traced back to the inter-model spread in simulated long-term sea ice loss. We demonstrate that the strength of future AA is further linked to the current climate’s, observable sea ice state across the multi-model ensemble of the 6th Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6). The implication is that the sea-ice climatology sets the stage for long-term changes through the 21st century, which mediate the degree by which Arctic warming is amplified with respect to global warming. We determine that a lower base-climate sea ice extent and sea ice concentration (SIC) in CMIP6 models enable stronger ice melt in both future climate and during the seasonal cycle. In particular, models with lower Arctic-mean SIC project stronger future ice loss and a more intense seasonal cycle in ice melt and growth. Both processes systemically link to a larger future AA across climate models. These results are manifested by the role of climate feedbacks that have been widely identified as major drivers of AA. We show in particular that models with low base-climate SIC predict a systematically stronger warming contribution through both sea-ice albedo feedback and temperature feedbacks in the future, as compared to models with high SIC. From our derived linear regressions in conjunction with observations, we estimate a 21st-century AA over sea ice of 2.47–3.34 with respect to global warming. Lastly, from the tight relationship between base-climate SIC and the projected timing of an ice-free September, we predict a seasonally ice-free Arctic by mid-century under a high-emission scenario.

     
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases will not only raise Earth’s temperature but may also change its variability and seasonal cycle. Here CMIP5 model data are analyzed to quantify these changes in surface air temperature (Tas) and investigate the underlying processes. The models capture well the mean Tas seasonal cycle and variability and their changes in reanalysis, which shows decreasing Tas seasonal amplitudes and variability over the Arctic and Southern Ocean from 1979 to 2017. Daily Tas variability and seasonal amplitude are projected to decrease in the twenty-first century at high latitudes (except for boreal summer when Tas variability increases) but increase at low latitudes. The day of the maximum or minimum Tas shows large delays over high-latitude oceans, while it changes little at low latitudes. These Tas changes at high latitudes are linked to the polar amplification of warming and sea ice loss, which cause larger warming in winter than summer due to extra heating from the ocean during the cold season. Reduced sea ice cover also decreases its ability to cause Tas variations, contributing to the decreased Tas variability at high latitudes. Over low–midlatitude oceans, larger increases in surface evaporation in winter than summer (due to strong winter winds, strengthened winter winds in the Southern Hemisphere, and increased winter surface humidity gradients over the Northern Hemisphere low latitudes), coupled with strong ocean mixing in winter, lead to smaller surface warming in winter than summer and thus increased seasonal amplitudes there. These changes result in narrower (wider) Tas distributions over the high (low) latitudes, which may have important implications for other related fields.

     
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    The Great Lakes’ atmosphere predominantly signposts signatures of climate change in terms of an elongated summer, depletion of ice‐cover, and up‐surging lake surface temperature and air temperature, which demands an in‐depth comprehension of future lake circulation dynamics. After satisfactory validations for the lake meteorology and hydrodynamics during 2010–2019, historical and future predictions based on a downscaled climate model for the Great Lakes region under Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) 4.5 and 8.5 scenarios are used to drive the Finite‐Volume Community Ocean Model applied to Lake Michigan during the ice‐free months of 2010–2069. Substantial rises in lake surface current speed during May–June and September–October are connected to the rising wind speed and air temperature in the lake domain. Under the RCP 4.5 scenario, the study expects a 6.5% per decade relative increase in surface current speed, with a rise of 1.3% in the coastal circulation (within 50‐m depth from the coast) until 2050. Surface circulation strength can reach the highest rise (13%) during 2030–2039 and a slight drop (−1%) during 2050–2069. During May–December, only a 0.3% variation is predicted in current magnitudes under RCP 4.5 and 8.5 scenarios. The projections anticipate the occurrence of a stronger, wider, and northward shifting lake gyre with changing lake meteorology. Further analysis indicates that the reduced thermal gradient over the lake surface tends to resist sharp modulations in winds and lake dynamics in the successive decades.

     
    more » « less
  5. The microstructure of the uppermost portions of a melting Arctic sea ice cover has a disproportionately large influence on how incident sunlight is reflected and absorbed in the ice/ocean system. The surface scattering layer (SSL) effectively backscatters solar radiation and keeps the surface albedo of melting ice relatively high compared to ice with the SSL manually removed. Measurements of albedo provide information on how incoming shortwave radiation is partitioned by the SSL and have been pivotal to improving climate model parameterizations. However, the relationship between the physical and optical properties of the SSL is still poorly constrained. Until now, radiative transfer models have been the only way to infer the microstructure of the SSL. During the MOSAiC expedition of 2019–2020, we took samples and, for the first time, directly measured the microstructure of the SSL on bare sea ice using X-ray micro-computed tomography. We show that the SSL has a highly anisotropic, coarse, and porous structure, with a small optical diameter and density at the surface, increasing with depth. As the melting surface ablates, the SSL regenerates, maintaining some aspects of its microstructure throughout the melt season. We used the microstructure measurements with a radiative transfer model to improve our understanding of the relationship between physical properties and optical properties at 850 nm wavelength. When the microstructure is used as model input, we see a 10–15% overestimation of the reflectance at 850 nm. This comparison suggests that either a) spatial variability at the meter scale is important for the two in situ optical measurements and therefore a larger sample size is needed to represent the microstructure or b) future work should investigate either i) using a ray-tracing approach instead of explicitly solving the radiative transfer equation or ii) using a more appropriate radiative transfer model.

     
    more » « less