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  1. 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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  2. Abstract

    Many recent studies have confirmed that variability in the stratosphere is a significant source of surface sub‐seasonal prediction skill during Northern Hemisphere winter. It may be beneficial, therefore, to think about times in which there might be windows‐of‐opportunity for skillful sub‐seasonal predictions based on the initial or predicted state of the stratosphere. In this study, we propose a simple, minimal model that can be used to understand the impact of the stratosphere on tropospheric predictability. Our model purposefully excludes state dependent predictability in either the stratosphere or troposphere or in the coupling between the two. Model parameters are set up to broadly represent current sub‐seasonal prediction systems by comparison with four dynamical models from the Sub‐Seasonal to Seasonal Prediction Project database. The model can reproduce the increases in correlation skill in sub‐sets of forecasts for weak and strong lower stratospheric polar vortex states over neutral states despite the lack of dependence of coupling or predictability on the stratospheric state. We demonstrate why different forecast skill diagnostics can give a very different impression of the relative skill in the three sub‐sets. Forecasts with large stratospheric signals and low amounts of noise are demonstrated to also be windows‐of‐opportunity for skillful tropospheric forecasts, but we show that these windows can be obscured by the presence of unrelated tropospheric signals.

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  3. Abstract

    Projected changes in the Northern Hemisphere stratospheric polar vortex are analyzed using Climate Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 experiments. Previous studies showed that projections of the wintertime zonally averaged polar vortex strength diverge widely between climate models with no agreement on the sign of change, and that this uncertainty contributes to the regional climate change uncertainty. Here, we show that there remains large uncertainty in the projected strength of the polar vortex in experiments with global warming levels ranging from moderate (SSP245 runs) to large (Abrupt‐4xCO2runs), and that the uncertainty maximizes in winter. Partitioning of the uncertainty in wintertime polar vortex strength projections reveals that, by the end of the 21st century, model uncertainty contributes half of the total uncertainty, with scenario uncertainty contributing only 10%. Regression analysis shows that up to 20% of the intermodel spread in projected precipitation over the Iberian Peninsula and northwestern US, and 20%–30% in near‐surface temperature over western US and northern Eurasian, can be associated with the spread in vortex strength projections after accounting for global warming. While changes in the magnitude and sign of the zonally averaged vortex strength are uncertain, most models (>95%) predict an eastward shift of the vortex by 8°–20° degrees in longitude relative to its historical location with the magnitude of the shift increasing for larger global warming levels. There is less agreement across models on a latitudinal shift, whose direction and magnitude correlate with changes in the zonally averaged vortex strength so that vortex weakening/strengthening corresponds to a southward/poleward shift.

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  4. Abstract

    Given uncertainty in the processes involved in polar amplification, elucidating the role of poleward heat and moisture transport is crucial. The Polar Amplification Model Intercomparison Project (PAMIP) permits robust separation of the effects of sea ice loss from sea surface warming under climate change. We utilize a moist isentropic circulation framework that accounts for moisture transport, condensation, and eddy transport, in order to analyze the circulation connecting the mid‐latitudes and the Arctic. In PAMIP's atmospheric general circulation model experiments, prescribed sea ice loss reduces poleward heat transport (PHT) by warming the returning moist isentropic circulation at high latitudes, while prescribed warming of the ocean surface increases PHT by strengthening the moist isentropic circulation. Inter‐model spread of PHT into the Arctic reflects the tug‐of‐war between sea‐ice and surface‐warming effects.

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