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  1. This study investigates the variability of water mass transformation (WMT) within the Weddell Gyre (WG). The WG serves as a pivotal site for the meridional overturning circulation (MOC) and ocean ventilation because it is the primary origin of the largest volume of water mass in the global ocean, Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW). Recent mooring data suggest substantial seasonal and interannual variability of AABW properties exiting the WG, and studies have linked the variability to the large-scale climate forcings affecting wind stress in the WG region. However, the specific thermodynamic mechanisms that link variability in surface forcings to variability in water mass transformations and AABW export remain unclear. This study explores WMT variability via WMT volume budgets derived from Walin’s classic WMT framework, using three state-of-the-art, data-assimilating ocean reanalyses: Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean state estimate (ECCOv4), Southern Ocean State Estimate (SOSE) and Simple Ocean Data Assimilation (SODA). From the model outputs, we diagnose a closed form of the water mass budget for AABW that explicitly accounts for transport across the WG boundary, surface forcing, interior mixing, and numerical mixing. We examine the annual mean climatology of the WMT budget terms, the seasonal climatology, and finally the interannual variability. In ECCO and SOSE, we see strong interannual variability in AABW volume budget. In SOSE, we find an accelerating loss of AABW, driven largely by interior mixing and changes in surface salt fluxes. ECCO shows a similar trend during a 3-yr time period beyond what is covered in SOSE, but also reveals such trends to be part of interannual variability over a much longer time period. Overall, ECCO provides the most useful timeseries for understanding the processes and mechanisms that drive WMT and export variability. SODA, in contrast, displays unphysically large variability in AABW volume, which we attribute to its data assimilation scheme. We examine correlations between the WMT budgets and large-scale climate indices, including ENSO and SAM; no strong relationships emerge, suggesting that these reanalysis products may not reproduce the AABW export pathways and mechanisms hypothesized from observations. 
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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. This work proposes a new computational framework for learning a structured generative model for real-world datasets. In particular, we propose to learn a Closed-loop Transcriptionbetween a multi-class, multi-dimensional data distribution and a Linear discriminative representation (CTRL) in the feature space that consists of multiple independent multi-dimensional linear subspaces. In particular, we argue that the optimal encoding and decoding mappings sought can be formulated as a two-player minimax game between the encoder and decoderfor the learned representation. A natural utility function for this game is the so-called rate reduction, a simple information-theoretic measure for distances between mixtures of subspace-like Gaussians in the feature space. Our formulation draws inspiration from closed-loop error feedback from control systems and avoids expensive evaluating and minimizing of approximated distances between arbitrary distributions in either the data space or the feature space. To a large extent, this new formulation unifies the concepts and benefits of Auto-Encoding and GAN and naturally extends them to the settings of learning a both discriminative and generative representation for multi-class and multi-dimensional real-world data. Our extensive experiments on many benchmark imagery datasets demonstrate tremendous potential of this new closed-loop formulation: under fair comparison, visual quality of the learned decoder and classification performance of the encoder is competitive and arguably better than existing methods based on GAN, VAE, or a combination of both. Unlike existing generative models, the so-learned features of the multiple classes are structured instead of hidden: different classes are explicitly mapped onto corresponding independent principal subspaces in the feature space, and diverse visual attributes within each class are modeled by the independent principal components within each subspace. 
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  4. null (Ed.)