Prospects for seasonal forecasting of iceberg distributions in the North Atlantic

Marsh, Robert; Bigg, Grant; Zhao, Yifan; Martin, Matthew J.; Blundell, Jeffrey R.; Josey, Simon A. ORCID:; Hanna, Edward; Ivchenko, Vladimir. 2017 Prospects for seasonal forecasting of iceberg distributions in the North Atlantic. Natural Hazards, 91 (2). 447-471.

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An efficient approach to ocean–iceberg modelling provides a means for assessing prospects for seasonal forecasting of iceberg distributions in the northwest Atlantic, where icebergs present a hazard to mariners each spring. The stand-alone surface (SAS) module that is part of the Nucleus for European Modelling of the Ocean (NEMO) is coupled with the NEMO iceberg module (ICB) in a “SAS-ICB” configuration with horizontal resolution of 0.25°. Iceberg conditions are investigated for three recent years, 2013–2015, characterized by widely varying iceberg distributions. The relative simplicity of SAS-ICB facilitates efficient investigation of sensitivity to iceberg fluxes and prevailing environmental conditions. SAS-ICB is provided with daily surface ocean analysis fields from the global Forecasting Ocean Assimilation Model (FOAM) of the Met Office. Surface currents, temperatures and height together determine iceberg advection and melting rates. Iceberg drift is further governed by surface winds, which are updated every 3 h. The flux of icebergs from the Greenland ice sheet is determined from engineering control theory and specified as an upstream flux in the vicinity of Davis Strait for January or February. Simulated iceberg distributions are evaluated alongside observations reported and archived by the International Ice Patrol. The best agreement with observations is obtained when variability in both upstream iceberg flux and oceanographic/atmospheric conditions is taken into account. Including interactive icebergs in an ocean–atmosphere model with sufficient seasonal forecast skill, and provided with accurate winter iceberg fluxes, it is concluded that seasonal forecasts of spring/summer iceberg conditions for the northwest Atlantic are now a realistic prospect.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0921-030X
Date made live: 21 Dec 2017 10:08 +0 (UTC)

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