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  1. Abstract

    Observations show predictive skill of the minimum sea ice extent (Min SIE) from late winter anomalous offshore ice drift along the Eurasian coastline, leading to local ice thickness anomalies at the onset of the melt season—a signal then amplified by the ice–albedo feedback. We assess whether the observed seasonal predictability of September sea ice extent (Sept SIE) from Fram Strait Ice Area Export (FSIAE; a proxy for Eurasian coastal divergence) is present in global climate model (GCM) large ensembles, namely the CESM2-LE, GISS-E2.1-G, FLOR-LE, CNRM-CM6-1, and CanESM5. All models show distinct periods where winter FSIAE anomalies are negatively correlated with the May sea ice thickness (May SIT) anomalies along the Eurasian coastline, and the following Sept Arctic SIE, as in observations. Counterintuitively, several models show occasional periods where winter FSIAE anomalies are positively correlated with the following Sept SIE anomalies when the mean ice thickness is large, or late in the simulation when the sea ice is thin, and/or when internal variability increases. More important, periods with weak correlation between winter FSIAE and the following Sept SIE dominate, suggesting that summer melt processes generally dominate over late-winter preconditioning and May SIT anomalies. In general, we find that the coupling between the winter FSIAE and ice thickness anomalies along the Eurasian coastline at the onset of the melt season is a ubiquitous feature of GCMs and that the relationship with the following Sept SIE is dependent on the mean Arctic sea ice thickness.

     
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  2. Antarctic sea ice prediction has garnered increasing attention in recent years, particularly in the context of the recent record lows of February 2022 and 2023. As Antarctica becomes a climate change hotspot, as polar tourism booms, and as scientific expeditions continue to explore this remote continent, the capacity to anticipate sea ice conditions weeks to months in advance is in increasing demand. Spurred by recent studies that uncovered physical mechanisms of Antarctic sea ice predictability and by the intriguing large variations of the observed sea ice extent in recent years, the Sea Ice Prediction Network South (SIPN South) project was initiated in 2017, building upon the Arctic Sea Ice Prediction Network. The SIPN South project annually coordinates spring-to-summer predictions of Antarctic sea ice conditions, to allow robust evaluation and intercomparison, and to guide future development in polar prediction systems. In this paper, we present and discuss the initial SIPN South results collected over six summer seasons (December-February 2017-2018 to 2022-2023). We use data from 22 unique contributors spanning five continents that have together delivered more than 3000 individual forecasts of sea ice area and concentration. The SIPN South median forecast of the circumpolar sea ice area captures the sign of the recent negative anomalies, and the verifying observations are systematically included in the 10-90% range of the forecast distribution. These statements also hold at the regional level except in the Ross Sea where the systematic biases and the ensemble spread are the largest. A notable finding is that the group forecast, constructed by aggregating the data provided by each contributor, outperforms most of the individual forecasts, both at the circumpolar and regional levels. This indicates the value of combining predictions to average out model-specific errors. Finally, we find that dynamical model predictions (i.e., based on process-based general circulation models) generally perform worse than statistical model predictions (i.e., data-driven empirical models including machine learning) in representing the regional variability of sea ice concentration in summer. SIPN South is a collaborative community project that is hosted on a shared public repository. The forecast and verification data used in SIPN South are publicly available in near-real time for further use by the polar research community, and eventually, policymakers. 
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  3. Abstract

    Every austral spring when Antarctic sea ice melts, favorable growing conditions lead to an intense phytoplankton bloom, which supports much of the local marine ecosystem. Recent studies have found that Antarctic sea ice is predictable several years in advance, suggesting that the spring bloom might exhibit similar predictability. Using a suite of perfect model predictability experiments, we find that November net primary production (NPP) is potentially predictable 7 to 10 years in advance in many Southern Ocean regions. Sea ice extent predictability peaks in late winter, followed by absorbed shortwave radiation and NPP with a 2 to 3 months lag. This seasonal progression of predictability supports our hypothesis that sea ice and light limitation control the inherent predictability of the spring bloom. Our results suggest skillful interannual predictions of NPP may be achievable, with implications for managing fisheries and the marine ecosystem, and guiding conservation policy in the Southern Ocean.

     
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    Abstract Compared to the Arctic, seasonal predictions of Antarctic sea ice have received relatively little attention. In this work, we utilize three coupled dynamical prediction systems developed at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory to assess the seasonal prediction skill and predictability of Antarctic sea ice. These systems, based on the FLOR, SPEAR_LO, and SPEAR_MED dynamical models, differ in their coupled model components, initialization techniques, atmospheric resolution, and model biases. Using suites of retrospective initialized seasonal predictions spanning 1992–2018, we investigate the role of these factors in determining Antarctic sea ice prediction skill and examine the mechanisms of regional sea ice predictability. We find that each system is capable of skillfully predicting regional Antarctic sea ice extent (SIE) with skill that exceeds a persistence forecast. Winter SIE is skillfully predicted 11 months in advance in the Weddell, Amundsen and Bellingshausen, Indian, and West Pacific sectors, whereas winter skill is notably lower in the Ross sector. Zonally advected upper ocean heat content anomalies are found to provide the crucial source of prediction skill for the winter sea ice edge position. The recently-developed SPEAR systems are more skillful than FLOR for summer sea ice predictions, owing to improvements in sea ice concentration and sea ice thickness initialization. Summer Weddell SIE is skillfully predicted up to 9 months in advance in SPEAR_MED, due to the persistence and drift of initialized sea ice thickness anomalies from the previous winter. Overall, these results suggest a promising potential for providing operational Antarctic sea ice predictions on seasonal timescales. 
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  6. Ice scallops are a small-scale (5–20 cm) quasi-periodic ripple pattern that occurs at the ice–water interface. Previous work has suggested that scallops form due to a self-reinforcing interaction between an evolving ice-surface geometry, an adjacent turbulent flow field and the resulting differential melt rates that occur along the interface. In this study, we perform a series of laboratory experiments in a refrigerated flume to quantitatively investigate the mechanisms of scallop formation and evolution in high resolution. Using particle image velocimetry, we probe an evolving ice–water boundary layer at sub-millimetre scales and 15 Hz frequency. Our data reveal three distinct regimes of ice–water interface evolution: a transition from flat to scalloped ice; an equilibrium scallop geometry; and an adjusting scallop interface. We find that scalloped-ice geometry produces a clear modification to the ice–water boundary layer, characterized by a time-mean recirculating eddy feature that forms in the scallop trough. Our primary finding is that scallops form due to a self-reinforcing feedback between the ice-interface geometry and shear production of turbulent kinetic energy in the flow interior. The length of this shear production zone is therefore hypothesized to set the scallop wavelength. 
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  7. Abstract

    The decline of Arctic sea ice extent has created a pressing need for accurate seasonal predictions of regional summer sea ice. Recent work has shown evidence for an Arctic sea ice spring predictability barrier, which may impose a sharp limit on regional forecasts initialized prior to spring. However, the physical mechanism for this barrier has remained elusive. In this work, we perform a daily sea ice mass (SIM) budget analysis in large ensemble experiments from two global climate models to investigate the mechanisms that underpin the spring predictability barrier. We find that predictability is limited in winter months by synoptically driven SIM export and negative feedbacks from sea ice growth. The spring barrier results from a sharp increase in predictability at melt onset, when ice‐albedo feedbacks act to enhance and persist the preexisting export‐generated mass anomaly. These results imply that ice thickness observations collected after melt onset are particularly critical for summer Arctic sea ice predictions.

     
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  8. Abstract

    We document the configuration and emergent simulation features from the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) OM4.0 ocean/sea ice model. OM4 serves as the ocean/sea ice component for the GFDL climate and Earth system models. It is also used for climate science research and is contributing to the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project version 6 Ocean Model Intercomparison Project. The ocean component of OM4 uses version 6 of the Modular Ocean Model and the sea ice component uses version 2 of the Sea Ice Simulator, which have identical horizontal grid layouts (Arakawa C‐grid). We follow the Coordinated Ocean‐sea ice Reference Experiments protocol to assess simulation quality across a broad suite of climate‐relevant features. We present results from two versions differing by horizontal grid spacing and physical parameterizations: OM4p5 has nominal 0.5° spacing and includes mesoscale eddy parameterizations and OM4p25 has nominal 0.25° spacing with no mesoscale eddy parameterization. Modular Ocean Model version 6 makes use of a vertical Lagrangian‐remap algorithm that enables general vertical coordinates. We show that use of a hybrid depth‐isopycnal coordinate reduces the middepth ocean warming drift commonly found in purez*vertical coordinate ocean models. To test the need for the mesoscale eddy parameterization used in OM4p5, we examine the results from a simulation that removes the eddy parameterization. The water mass structure and model drift are physically degraded relative to OM4p5, thus supporting the key role for a mesoscale closure at this resolution.

     
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