• Characteristics of Arctic storms and their influence on surface climate

      Yang, Yang; Zhang, Xiangdong; Danielson, Seth; Fochesatto, Javier; Hock, Regine (2020-05)
      Impacts of intense synoptic storms on Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea surface environmental conditions are examined, focusing on storms moving into the regions with northward and eastward pathways. Both storms alter the prevailing northeasterly wind to southerly and southwesterly wind. The storms moving from the East Siberian Sea that follow a west to east route are most active in summer and have the longest duration. Increasing southwesterly wind plays a key role in the decline of thin sea ice within the warm season. Storms traveling from the relatively warm Pacific Ocean into the Arctic over the Bering Strait are more common in winter, and are typically more intense than the summer storms that propagate west to east. Downward longwave radiation increases considerably with the passage of intense winter storms over the ice-covered Chukchi Sea; the sea ice concentration decreases accordingly. The impact of different sea ice conditions on Arctic synoptic storm systems in autumn are investigated in the North Pacific and Atlantic sectors, based on the ten ensembles of hindcast simulations from coupled regional climate model HIRHAM-NAOSIM. In both the Pacific and Atlantic sectors, greater transfers of heat and moisture fluxes from the open ocean to the atmosphere occur in low sea ice years than in high sea ice years. The largest increase of upward heat fluxes and baroclinicity occurs over the Laptev, southern Chukchi and Beaufort Seas in the Pacific sector, and over the southern Greenland and Barents Seas in the Atlantic sector. Enhanced baroclinity plays a dominant role in the development of intense storm systems. Therefore, storms in reduced sea ice years are more intense than in enhanced sea ice years in both Atlantic and Pacific sectors. The storm count also increases over locations exhibiting high baroclinicity. Sea ice volume anomalies are significantly correlated with synoptic storm counts based on maximum covariance analysis (MCA) leading modes of covariance between sea ice volume and storm count over Pacific and Atlantic sectors are identified respectively. The results are consistent with our findings in the composite analysis. In the Pacific sector, the first pattern of the MCA demonstrates that increasing storm counts over the Laptev Sea corresponds to decreasing sea ice volume over that region. In the Atlantic sector, the decrease of sea ice volume is highly correlated with decreasing storm counts over the northern Greenland Sea. Connection of storm activity over the North Pacific Ocean with the tropical stratosphere quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) is investigated following a composite analysis of intense storm vertical cross sections. An observed stronger potential vorticity anomaly of intense storms is associated with the QBO west phase and results in enhanced warm air advection near the surface. A warm core structure forms over the east or northeast direction relative to the surface low center, which bows the isentropes downward. Upward motion following the isentropes reduces the surface low pressure, which in turn, facilitate storms to keep propagating in east and northeast directions. Under the QBO east phase, a weak surface warm core forms to the southeast of the storm center, resulting in a slow development of the storms, and these storms tend to move southeastward.
    • Data analysis and data assimilation of Arctic Ocean observations

      Stroh, Jacob Nathaniel; Panteleev, Gleb; Mölders, Nicole; Weingartner, Thomas; Rhodes, John (2019-05)
      Arctic-region observations are sparse and represent only a small portion of the physical state of nature. It is therefore essential to maximize the information content of observations and bservation-conditioned analyses whenever possible, including the quantification of their accuracy. The four largely disparate works presented here emphasize observation analysis and assimilation in the context of the Arctic Ocean (AO). These studies focus on the relationship between observational data/products, numerical models based on physical processes, and the use of such data to constrain and inform those products/models to di_erent ends. The first part comprises Chapters 1 and 2 which revolve around oceanographic observations collected during the International Polar Year (IPY) program of 2007-2009. Chapter 1 validates pan- Arctic satellite-based sea surface temperature and salinity products against these data to establish important estimates of product reliability in terms of bias and bias-adjusted standard errors. It establishes practical regional reliability for these products which are often used in modeling and climatological applications, and provides some guidance for improving them. Chapter 2 constructs a gridded full-depth snapshot of the AO during the IPY to visually outline recent, previouslydocumented AO watermass distribution changes by comparing it to a historical climatology of the latter 20th century derived from private Russian data. It provides an expository review of literature documenting major AO climate changes and augments them with additional changes in freshwater distribution and sea surface height in the Chukchi and Bering Seas. The last two chapters present work focused on the application of data assimilation (DA) methodologies, and constitute the second part of this thesis focused on the synthesis of numerical modeling and observational data. Chapter 3 presents a novel approach to sea ice model trajectory optimization whereby spatially-variable sea ice rheology parameter distributions provide the additional model flexibility needed to assimilate observable components of the sea ice state. The study employs a toy 1D model to demonstrate the practical benefits of the approach and serves as a proof-of-concept to justify the considerable effort needed to extend the approach to 2D. Chapter 4 combines an ice-free model of the Chukchi Sea with a modified ensemble filter to develop a DA system which would be suitable for operational forecasting and monitoring the region in support of oil spill mitigation. The method improves the assimilation of non-Gaussian asynchronous surface current observations beyond the traditional approach.
    • Impacts of storm on sea ice: from case study to climate scale analysis

      Peng, Liran; Zhang, Xiangdong; Collins, Richard; Fochesatto, Javier; Polyakov, Igor (2019-12)
      Recent studies have shown that intense and long-lasting storms potentially facilitate sea ice melting. Under the background of extratropical storm tracks poleward shift, significant reductions of Arctic sea ice coverage, and thinning of sea ice thickness over the last several decades, a better understanding on how storms impact sea ice mass balance is obviously of great importance to better predict future sea ice and the Arctic climate changes. This thesis presents a multi-scale study on how storms impact sea ice, consisting of three different parts of the effort. In the first part, we examined the impacts of the 2016 summer intense storm on sea ice changes over the Chukchi Sea using ship-borne observations. The results show that the intense storm can accelerate ice melt through enhanced upper-ocean mixing and upward heat transport. The satellite-observed long-term sea ice variations potentially can be impacted by many factors. In the second part, we first explore key physical processes controlling sea ice changes under no-storm condition. We examined and compared results from 25 sensitivity experiments using the NCAR's Community Earth System Model (CESM). We found that sea ice volume, velocity, and thickness are highly sensitive to perturbed air-ice momentum flux and sea ice strength. Increased sea ice strength or decreased air-ice momentum flux causes counter-clockwise rotation of the transpolar drift, resulting in an increase in sea ice export through Fram Strait and therefore reduction of the pan-Arctic sea ice thickness. Following four tracers released over the Arctic, we found the sea ice thickness distributions following those tracers are broader over the western Arctic and becomes narrower over the eastern Arctic. Additionally, thermodynamic processes are more dominant controlling sea ice thickness variations, especially over periphery seas. Over the eastern Arctic, dynamic processes play a more important role in controlling sea ice thickness variation. Previous studies show that thin ice responds to external perturbations much faster than the thick ice. Therefore, the impacts of storms on sea ice are expected to be different compared with the western/eastern Arctic and the entral/periphery seas. In the third part, we conduct a new composite analysis to investigate the storm impact on sea ice over seven regions for all storms spanning from 1979 to 2018. We focused on sea ice and storm changes over seven regions and found storms tend to have different short-term (two days before and after storm passage), mid-term (one-two weeks after storm passage), and long-term (from 1979 to 2018) impact on sea ice area over those regions. Over periphery seas (Chukchi, East Siberian, Laptev, Kara, and Barents Seas), storms lead to a short-term sea ice area decrease below the climatology, and a mid-term sea ice increase above the climatology. This behavior causes sea ice area to have a small correlation with the storm counts from 1979 to 2018, which suggest that storms have a limited long-term impact on sea ice area over periphery seas. Both the short term and mid-term storm impacts on sea ice area are confined within a 400 km radius circle with maximum impacts shown within a 200 km radius circle. Storms over the western Arctic (Chukchi, East Siberian, and Laptev Seas) have a stronger short-term and mid-term impact on sea ice area compared with the Eastern Arctic (Barents and Kara Seas). Storms over both Atlantic and Pacific entrance regions have a small impact on sea ice area, and storms over the Norwegian, Iceland, and Greenland Seas have the smallest impact on the sea ice area. Compared to the periphery seas, storms tend to have a stronger long-term impact on sea ice area over the central Arctic. The correlation coefficients between the storm count and sea ice area exceed 0.75.
    • Modelling investigation of interaction between Arctic sea ice and storms: insights from case studies and climatological hindcast simulations

      Semenov, Alexander; Zhang, Xiangdong; Bhatt, Uma; Hutchings, Jennifer; Mölders, Nicole (2019-05)
      The goal of this study is to improve understanding of atmosphere, sea ice, and ocean interactions in the context of Arctic storm activities. The reduction of Arctic sea ice extent, increase in ocean water temperatures, and changes of atmospheric circulation have been manifested in the Arctic Ocean along with the large surface air temperature increase during recent decades. All of these changes may change the way in which atmosphere, sea ice, and ocean interact, which may in turn feedback to Arctic surface air warming. To achieve the goal, we employed an integrative approach including analysis of modeling simulation results and conducting specifically designed model sensitivity experiments. The novelty of this study is linking synoptic scale storms to large-scale changes in sea ice and atmospheric circulation. The models were used in this study range from the regional fully coupled Arctic climate model HIRHAM-NAOSIM to the ocean-sea ice component model of the Community Earth System Model CESM and the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. Analysis of HIRHAM-NAOSIM simulation outputs shows regionally dependent variability of storm count with a higher number of storms over the Atlantic side than over the Pacific side. High-resolution simulations also reproduce higher number of storms than lower resolution reanalysis dataset. This is because the high-resolution model may capture more shallow and small size storms. As an integrated consequence, the composite analysis shows that more numerous intense storms produce low-pressure systems centered over the Barents-Kara-Laptev seas and the Chukchi-East Siberian seas, leading to anomalous cyclonic circulation over the Atlantic Arctic Ocean and Pacific Arctic Ocean. Correspondingly, anomalous sea ice transport occurs, enhancing sea ice outflow out of the Barents-Kara-Laptev sea ice and weakening sea ice inflow into the Chukchi-Beaufort seas from the thick ice area north of the Canadian Archipelago. This change in sea ice transport causes a decrease in sea ice concentration and thickness in these two areas. However, energy budget analysis exhibits a decrease in downward net sea ice heat fluxes, reducing sea ice melt, when more numerous intense storms occur. This decrease could be attributed to increased cloudiness and destabilized atmospheric boundary layer associated with intense storms, which can result in a decrease in downward shortwave radiation and an increase in upward turbulent heat fluxes. The sea ice-ocean component CICE-POP of Community Earth System Model (CESM) was used to conduct sensitivity experiment to examine impacts of two selected storms on sea ice. CICE-POP is generally able to simulate the observed spatial distribution of the Arctic sea-ice concentration, thickness, and motion, and interannual variability of the Arctic sea ice area for the period 1979 to 2011. However, some biases still exit, including overestimated sea-ice drift speeds, particularly in the Transpolar Drift Stream, and overestimated sea-ice concentration in the Atlantic Arctic but slightly underestimated sea ice concentration in the Pacific Arctic. Analysis of CICE-POP sensitivity experiments suggests that dynamic forcing associated with the storms plays more important driving role in causing sea ice changes than thermodynamics does in the case of storm in March 2011, while both thermodynamic and dynamic forcings have comparable impacts on sea ice decrease in the case of the August 2012. In case of March 2011 storm, increased surface winds caused the reduction of sea ice area in the Barents and Kara Seas by forcing sea ice to move eastward. Sea ice reduction was primarily driven by mechanical processes rather than ice melting. On the contrary, the case study of August 2012 storm, that occurred during the Arctic summer, exemplified the case of equal contribution of mechanical sea ice redistribution of sea ice in the Chukchi - East Siberian - Beaufort seas and melt in sea ice reduction. To understand the impacts of the changed Arctic environment on storm dynamics, we carried out WRF model simulations for a selected Arctic storm that occurred in March 2011. Model output highlight the importance of both increased surface turbulent heat fluxes due to sea ice retreat and self-enhanced warm and moist air advection from the North Atlantic into the Arctic. These external forcing factor and internal dynamic process sustain and even strengthen atmospheric baroclinicity, supporting the storm to develop and intensify. Additional sensitivity experiments further suggest that latent heat release resulting from condensation/precipitation within the storm enhances baroclinicity aloft and, in turn, causes a re-intensification of the storm from its decaying phase.
    • Spring Ice Trails 2013 - Barrow, Alaska

      Dammann, Dyre O.; Druckenmiller, Matt; Donovan, Michael; George, Craig (2013-06-17)
      Unusual sea ice conditions for the hunters of Barrow Alaska Following a record Arctic summer sea ice minimum in September 2012, this winter had an unusually low sea ice maximum extent. Although this winter maximum was only the fifth lowest on satellite records, this year’s winter sea ice proved to be different and challenging for the hunters of northern Alaska. The unusual season started with persistent storms from the west keeping temperatures high and prevented ice formation until early November. The shorefast ice following remained unusually smooth and undeformed. With very few ridges reaching the sea floor the stability of the shorefast ice was lower than usual and resulted in multiple break out events during spring. The unstable ice in combination with few open leads has resulted in a so far unsuccessful hunting season. Also notable this year is what appears to be a complete lack of multiyear ice in the region. The local population refers to this ice as piqaluyak, which is used for drinking water during long periods on the ice. Although not critical as a water source, the multiyear ice may play a significant role in creating stable safe ice for hunting. Whether this year will be remembered as an anomaly or as the new normal remains an open question.