Compensating biases and a noteworthy success in the CMIP5 representation of Antarctic sea ice processes

Holmes, Caroline R. ORCID:; Holland, Paul R. ORCID:; Bracegirdle, Thomas J. ORCID: 2019 Compensating biases and a noteworthy success in the CMIP5 representation of Antarctic sea ice processes. Geophysical Research Letters, 46 (8). 4299-4307.

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Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) climate models simulate a wide range of historical sea ice areas. Even models with areas close to observed values may contain compensating errors, affecting reliability of their projections. This study focuses on the seasonal cycle of sea ice, including analysis of model concentration budgets. Many models have insufficient autumn ice growth, leading to large winter biases. A subset of models accurately represent sea ice evolution year‐round. However, comparing their winter ice concentration budget to observations reveals a range of behaviors. At least one model has an accurate ice budget, which is only possible due to realistic ice drifts. The CMIP5 generation of model physics and resolution is therefore structurally capable of accurately representing processes in Antarctic sea ice. This implies that substantially improved projections of Antarctic dense ocean water formation and ice sheet melting are possible with appropriate subsetting of existing climate models.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0094-8276
Date made live: 08 Apr 2019 11:29 +0 (UTC)

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