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  • Article
    Effects of increasing the category resolution of the sea ice thickness distribution in a coupled climate model on Arctic and Antarctic sea ice mean state
    (American Geophysical Union, 2022-09-29) Smith, Madison M. ; Holland, Marika M. ; Petty, Alek A. ; Light, Bonnie ; Bailey, David A.
    Many modern sea ice models used in global climate models represent the subgrid‐scale heterogeneity in sea ice thickness with an ice thickness distribution (ITD), which improves model realism by representing the significant impact of the high spatial heterogeneity of sea ice thickness on thermodynamic and dynamic processes. Most models default to five thickness categories. However, little has been done to explore the effects of the resolution of this distribution (number of categories) on sea‐ice feedbacks in a coupled model framework and resulting representation of the sea ice mean state. Here, we explore this using sensitivity experiments in CESM2 with the standard 5 ice thickness categories and 15 ice thickness categories. Increasing the resolution of the ITD in a run with preindustrial climate forcing results in substantially thicker Arctic sea ice year‐round. Analyses show that this is a result of the ITD influence on ice strength. With 15 ITD categories, weaker ice occurs for the same average thickness, resulting in a higher fraction of ridged sea ice. In contrast, the higher resolution of thin ice categories results in enhanced heat conduction and bottom growth and leads to only somewhat increased winter Antarctic sea ice volume. The spatial resolution of the ICESat‐2 satellite mission provides a new opportunity to compare model outputs with observations of seasonal evolution of the ITD in the Arctic (ICESat‐2; 2018–2021). Comparisons highlight significant differences from the ITD modeled with both runs over this period, likely pointing to underlying issues contributing to the representation of average thickness.
  • Article
    Melt pond conditions on declining arctic sea ice over 1979-2016: Model development, validation, and results
    (American Geophysical Union, 2018-10-18) Zhang, Jinlun ; Schweiger, Axel ; Webster, Melinda ; Light, Bonnie ; Steele, Michael ; Ashjian, Carin J. ; Campbell, Robert ; Spitz, Yvette H.
    A melt pond (MP) distribution equation has been developed and incorporated into the Marginal Ice‐Zone Modeling and Assimilation System to simulate Arctic MPs and sea ice over 1979–2016. The equation differs from previous MP models and yet benefits from previous studies for MP parameterizations as well as a range of observations for model calibration. Model results show higher magnitude of MP volume per unit ice area and area fraction in most of the Canada Basin and the East Siberian Sea and lower magnitude in the central Arctic. This is consistent with Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer observations, evaluated with Measurements of Earth Data for Environmental Analysis (MEDEA) data, and closely related to top ice melt per unit ice area. The model simulates a decrease in the total Arctic sea ice volume and area, owing to a strong increase in bottom and lateral ice melt. The sea ice decline leads to a strong decrease in the total MP volume and area. However, the Arctic‐averaged MP volume per unit ice area and area fraction show weak, statistically insignificant downward trends, which is linked to the fact that MP water drainage per unit ice area is increasing. It is also linked to the fact that MP volume and area decrease relatively faster than ice area. This suggests that overall the actual MP conditions on ice have changed little in the past decades as the ice cover is retreating in response to Arctic warming, thus consistent with the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer observations that show no clear trend in MP area fraction over 2000–2011.