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Improving Arctic Sea Ice Prediction Using PIOMAS Initial Sea Ice Thickness in a Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Model

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  • 1 INNOVIM, LLC, Greenbelt, and NOAA/NWS/NCEP/Climate Prediction Center, College Park, Maryland
  • | 2 NOAA/NWS/NCEP/Climate Prediction Center, College Park, Maryland
  • | 3 Polar Science Center, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
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Abstract

Because sea ice thickness is known to influence future patterns of sea ice concentration, it is likely that an improved initialization of sea ice thickness in a coupled ocean–atmosphere model would improve Arctic sea ice cover forecasts. Here, two sea ice thickness datasets as possible candidates for forecast initialization were investigated: the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) and the Pan-Arctic Ice Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS). Using Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) data, it was shown that the PIOMAS dataset had a more realistic representation of sea ice thickness than CFSR. Subsequently, both March CFSR and PIOMAS sea ice thicknesses were used to initialize hindcasts using the Climate Forecast System, version 2 (CFSv2), model. A second set of model runs was also done in which the original model physics were modified to more physically reasonable settings—namely, increasing the number of marine stratus clouds in the Arctic region and enabling realistic representation of the ice–ocean heat flux. Hindcasts were evaluated using sea ice concentration observations from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Team and Bootstrap algorithms. Results show that using PIOMAS initial sea ice thickness in addition to the physics modifications yielded significant improvement in the prediction of September Arctic sea ice extent along with increased interannual predictive skill. Significant local improvements in sea ice concentration were also seen in distinct regions for the change to PIOMAS initial thickness or the physics adjustments, with the most improvement occurring when these changes were applied concurrently.

Corresponding author address: Thomas W. Collow, NOAA/NWS/NCEP Climate Prediction Center, NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction, 5830 University Research Court, College Park, MD 20740. E-mail: thomas.collow@noaa.gov

Abstract

Because sea ice thickness is known to influence future patterns of sea ice concentration, it is likely that an improved initialization of sea ice thickness in a coupled ocean–atmosphere model would improve Arctic sea ice cover forecasts. Here, two sea ice thickness datasets as possible candidates for forecast initialization were investigated: the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) and the Pan-Arctic Ice Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS). Using Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) data, it was shown that the PIOMAS dataset had a more realistic representation of sea ice thickness than CFSR. Subsequently, both March CFSR and PIOMAS sea ice thicknesses were used to initialize hindcasts using the Climate Forecast System, version 2 (CFSv2), model. A second set of model runs was also done in which the original model physics were modified to more physically reasonable settings—namely, increasing the number of marine stratus clouds in the Arctic region and enabling realistic representation of the ice–ocean heat flux. Hindcasts were evaluated using sea ice concentration observations from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Team and Bootstrap algorithms. Results show that using PIOMAS initial sea ice thickness in addition to the physics modifications yielded significant improvement in the prediction of September Arctic sea ice extent along with increased interannual predictive skill. Significant local improvements in sea ice concentration were also seen in distinct regions for the change to PIOMAS initial thickness or the physics adjustments, with the most improvement occurring when these changes were applied concurrently.

Corresponding author address: Thomas W. Collow, NOAA/NWS/NCEP Climate Prediction Center, NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction, 5830 University Research Court, College Park, MD 20740. E-mail: thomas.collow@noaa.gov
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