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Title: Arctic Sea Ice in Two Configurations of the CESM2 During the 20th and 21st Centuries

We provide an assessment of the current and future states of Arctic sea ice simulated by the Community Earth System Model version 2 (CESM2). The CESM2 is the version of the CESM contributed to the sixth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6). We analyze changes in Arctic sea ice cover in two CESM2 configurations with differing atmospheric components: the CESM2(CAM6) and the CESM2(WACCM6). Over the historical period, the CESM2(CAM6) winter ice thickness distribution is biased thin, which leads to lower summer ice area compared to CESM2(WACCM6) and observations. In both CESM2 configurations, the timing of first ice‐free conditions is insensitive to the choice of CMIP6 future emissions scenario. In fact, the probability of an ice‐free Arctic summer remains low only if global warming stays below 1.5°C, which none of the CMIP6 scenarios achieve. By the end of the 21st century, the CESM2 simulates less ocean heat loss during the fall months compared to its previous version, delaying sea ice formation and leading to ice‐free conditions for up to 8 months under the high emissions scenario. As a result, both CESM2 configurations exhibit an accelerated decline in winter and spring ice area, a behavior that had not been previously seen in CESM simulations. Differences in climate sensitivity and higher levels of atmospheric CO2by 2100 in the CMIP6 high emissions scenario compared to its CMIP5 analog could explain why this winter ice loss was not previously simulated by the CESM.

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Award ID(s):
1847398 1724748
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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