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Impact of model resolution on Arctic sea ice and North Atlantic Ocean heat transport

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Impact of model resolution on Arctic sea ice and North Atlantic Ocean heat transport

 

Authors:  David Docquier et al

 

Published online:   11th June, 2019

 

Abstract:

Arctic sea-ice area and volume have substantially decreased since the beginning of the satellite era. Concurrently, the poleward heat transport from the North Atlantic Ocean into the Arctic has increased, partly contributing to the loss of sea ice. Increasing the horizontal resolution of general circulation models (GCMs) improves their ability to represent the complex interplay of processes at high latitudes. Here, we investigate the impact of model resolution on Arctic sea ice and Atlantic Ocean heat transport (OHT) by using five different state-of-the-art coupled GCMs (12 model configurations in total) that include dynamic representations of the ocean, atmosphere and sea ice. The models participate in the High Resolution Model Intercomparison Project (HighResMIP) of the sixth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6). Model results over the period 1950–2014 are compared to different observational datasets. In the models studied, a finer ocean resolution drives lower Arctic sea-ice area and volume and generally enhances Atlantic OHT. The representation of ocean surface characteristics, such as sea-surface temperature (SST) and velocity, is greatly improved by using a finer ocean resolution. This study highlights a clear anticorrelation at interannual time scales between Arctic sea ice (area and volume) and Atlantic OHT north of 60∘N60∘N in the models studied. However, the strength of this relationship is not systematically impacted by model resolution. The higher the latitude to compute OHT, the stronger the relationship between sea-ice area/volume and OHT. Sea ice in the Barents/Kara and Greenland–Iceland–Norwegian (GIN) Seas is more strongly connected to Atlantic OHT than other Arctic seas.

 

Link to full paper:  https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2Fs00382-019-04840-y.pdf

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