Melt pond conditions on declining arctic sea ice over 1979-2016: Model development, validation, and results

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Zhang, Jinlun
Schweiger, Axel
Webster, Melinda
Light, Bonnie
Steele, Michael
Ashjian, Carin J.
Campbell, Robert
Spitz, Yvette H.
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Arctic Ocean
sea ice
melt ponds
numerical modeling
climate variability
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.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2018. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans, 123(11), (2018): 7983-8003. doi:10.1029/2018JC014298.
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Zhang, J., Schweiger, A., Webster, M., Light, B., Steele, M., Ashjian, C., Campbell, R., & Spitz, Y. (2018). Melt pond conditions on declining Arctic sea ice over 1979–2016: Model development, validation, and results. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 123, 7983–8003
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