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  1. Abstract In recent decades, the Arctic minimum sea ice extent has transitioned from a predominantly thick multiyear ice cover to a thinner seasonal ice cover. We partition the total (observed) Arctic summer area loss into thermodynamic and dynamic (convergence, ridging and export) sea ice area loss during the satellite era from 1979 to 2021 using a Lagrangian sea ice tracking model driven by satellite-derived sea ice velocities. Results show that the thermodynamic signal dominates the total summer ice area loss and the dynamic signal remains small (∼ 20%) even in 2007 when dynamic loss was largest. Sea ice loss by compaction (within pack ice convergence) dominates the dynamic area loss, even in years when the export is largest. Results from a simple (Ekman) free-drift sea ice model, supported by results from the Lagrangian model, suggest that non-linear effects between dynamic and thermodynamic area loss can be important for large negative anomalies in sea ice extent, in accord with previous modeling studies. A detailed analysis of two all-time record minimum years (2007 and 2012) — one with a semi-permanent high in the southern Beaufort Sea and the other with a short-lived but extreme storm in the Pacific sector of the Arcticmore »in late summer — shows that compaction by Ekman convergence together with large thermodynamic melt in the marginal ice zone dominated the sea ice area loss in 2007 while, in 2012, it was dominated by Ekman divergence amplified by sea–ice albedo feedback — together with an early melt onset. We argue that Ekman divergence from more intense summer storms when the sun is high above the horizon is a more likely mechanism for a “first–time” ice-free Arctic.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 9, 2024
  2. Abstract

    We compare the vertical hydrography of the Community Earth System Model Large Ensemble (CESM1‐LE) with observations from two specific periods: the Arctic Ice Dynamics Joint Experiment (AIDJEX; 1975–1976) and Ice‐Tethered Profilers (ITP; 2004–2018). A comparison between simulated and observed salinity and potential temperature profiles highlights two key model biases in all ensemble members: (a) an absence of Pacific Waters in the water column and (b) a slight deepening of the May mixed layer contrary to observations, which show a large reduction in the mixed‐layer depth and an increase in stratification over the same time period. We examine processes controlling the sea ice mass balance using a one‐dimensional vertical heat budget in the light of the model limitations implied by these two biases. Results indicate that remnant solar heat trapped beneath the halocline is mostly ventilated to the surface by mixing before the following melt season. Furthermore, we find that vertical advection associated with Ekman pumping has only a small effect on the vertical heat transport, even in early fall when the winds are strong and the pack ice is weak. Lastly, we estimate the impact of the missing Pacific Waters at 0.40 m of reduced winter ice growth.

  3. Abstract In theory, the same sea-ice models could be used for both research and operations, but in practice, differences in scientific and software requirements and computational and human resources complicate the matter. Although sea-ice modeling tools developed for climate studies and other research applications produce output of interest to operational forecast users, such as ice motion, convergence, and internal ice pressure, the relevant spatial and temporal scales may not be sufficiently resolved. For instance, sea-ice research codes are typically run with horizontal resolution of more than 3 km, while mariners need information on scales less than 300 m. Certain sea-ice processes and coupled feedbacks that are critical to simulating the Earth system may not be relevant on these scales; and therefore, the most important model upgrades for improving sea-ice predictions might be made in the atmosphere and ocean components of coupled models or in their coupling mechanisms, rather than in the sea-ice model itself. This paper discusses some of the challenges in applying sea-ice modeling tools developed for research purposes for operational forecasting on short time scales, and highlights promising new directions in sea-ice modeling.
  4. Seasonal predictability of the minimum sea ice extent (SIE) in the Laptev Sea is investigated using winter coastal divergence as a predictor. From February to May, the new ice forming in wind-driven coastal polynyas grows to a thickness approximately equal to the climatological thickness loss due to summer thermodynamic processes. Estimating the area of sea ice that is preconditioned to melt enables seasonal predictability of the minimum SIE. Wintertime ice motion is quantified by seeding passive tracers along the coastlines and advecting them with the Lagrangian Ice Tracking System (LITS) forced with sea ice drifts from the Polar Pathfinder dataset for years 1992–2016. LITS-derived landfast ice estimates are comparable to those of the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute ice charts. Time series of the minimum SIE and coastal divergence show trends of −24.2% and +31.3% per decade, respectively. Statistically significant correlation ( r = −0.63) between anomalies of coastal divergence and the following September SIE occurs for coastal divergence integrated from February to the beginning of May. Using the coastal divergence anomaly to predict the minimum SIE departure from the trend improves the explained variance by 21% compared to hindcasts based on persistence of the linear trend. Coastal divergencemore »anomalies correlate with the winter mean Arctic Oscillation index ( r = 0.69). LITS-derived areas of coastal divergence tend to underestimate the total area covered by thin ice in the CryoSat-2/SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) thickness dataset, as suggested by a thermodynamic sea ice growth model.

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