• 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.