• Role of Arctic Sea Ice Variability in Climate Models

      Dammann, Dyre O.; Bhatt, Uma; Polyakov, Igor; Zhang, Xiang (2011-08)
      Arctic sea ice plays an important role in climate by influencing surface heat fluxes and albedo, so must be accurately represented in climate models. This study finds that the fully coupled ice-ocean-atmosphere-land Community Climate System Model (CCSM3.0) underestimates day-to-day ice variability compared to observations and employs the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM3.0) to investigate the atmospheric sensitivity to sea ice variability. Three 100-ensemble experiments are forced with climatological, daily-varying, and smoothly-varying sea ice conditions from an anomalously low ice period (September 2006-February 2007). Daily ice variability has a large local impact on the atmosphere when ice undergoes rapid changes, leading to local cooling and subsequent circulation changes. The most notable example of a large-scale atmospheric response occurs over Northern Europe during fall where daily ice variability forces reductions in the number and strength of cyclones, leading to positive sea level pressure anomalies, surface warming, and reduced cloud cover.