Sensitivity of open-water ice growth and ice concentration evolution in a coupled atmosphere-ocean-sea ice model

gerrit.lohmann [ at ]


A coupled atmosphere-ocean-sea ice model is applied to investigate to what degree the area-thickness distribution of new ice formed in open water affects the ice and ocean properties. Two sensitivity experiments are performed which modify the horizontal-to-vertical aspect ratio of open-water ice growth. The resulting changes in the Arctic sea-ice concentration strongly affect the surface albedo, the ocean heat release to the atmosphere, and the sea-ice production. The changes are further amplified through a positive feedback mechanism among the Arctic sea ice, the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), and the surface air temperature in the Arctic, as the Fram Strait sea ice import influences the freshwater budget in the North Atlantic Ocean. Anomalies in sea-ice transport lead to changes in sea surface properties of the North Atlantic and the strength of AMOC. For the Southern Ocean, the most pronounced change is a warming along the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), owing to the interhemispheric bipolar seasaw linked to AMOC weakening. Another insight of this study lies on the improvement of our climate model. The ocean component FESOM is a newly developed ocean-sea ice model with an unstructured mesh and multi-resolution. We find that the subpolar sea-ice boundary in the Northern Hemisphere can be improved by tuning the process of open-water ice growth, which strongly influences the sea ice concentration in the marginal ice zone, the North Atlantic circulation, salinity and Arctic sea ice volume. Since the distribution of new ice on open water relies on many uncertain parameters and the knowledge of the detailed processes is currently too crude, it is a challenge to implement the processes realistically into models. Based on our sensitivity experiments, we conclude a pronounced uncertainty related to open-water sea ice growth which could significantly affect the climate system sensitivity.

Item Type
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Research Networks
Peer revision
ISI/Scopus peer-reviewed
Publication Status
Eprint ID
DOI 10.1016/j.dynatmoce.2017.05.003

Cite as
Shi, X. and Lohmann, G. (2017): Sensitivity of open-water ice growth and ice concentration evolution in a coupled atmosphere-ocean-sea ice model , Dynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans, 79 , pp. 10-30 . doi: 10.1016/j.dynatmoce.2017.05.003



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