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Response of sea-ice models to perturbations in surface heat flux

  • T. E. Arbetter (a1), J. A. Curry (a1), M. M. Holland (a1) and J. A. Maslanik (a1)

Abstract

There are currently a variety of one- and two-dimensional sea-ice models being used for climate simulations and sensitivity studies. Though all the models can be timed to simulate current-day conditions to some degree of accuracy, the responses of each model to perturbations in forcing from the atmosphere or ocean are different. Thus, climate-change prediction depends on the choice of sea-ice model. In this study, the sensitivities of various sea-ice models to external heat-flux perturbations are examined in a systematic manner. Starting from similar baseline annual thicknesses, each model is subjected to an applied heat-flux perturbation to assess icemelt. Separate experiments are conducted to compare the response of each model to heat fluxes applied at the atmospheric and the oceanic interfaces. It is found that the magnitude of the heat-flux perturbation required to melt ice varies greatly among different models, with the largest difference arising between models that include ice dynamics vs those that do not. Most models show an asymmetry in the response to heat-flux perturbations applied at the top and bottom surfaces of the ice. This study has implications for the choice of sea-ice models used for climate-change simulations. It also gives insight to the accuracy required for observations and model simulations of the surface heat fluxes.

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