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Keith M. Hines
David H. Bromwich
Lesheng Bai
Cecilia M. Bitz
Jordan G. Powers
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Kevin W. Manning


The Polar Weather Research and Forecasting Model (Polar WRF), a polar-optimized version of the WRF Model, is developed and made available to the community by Ohio State University’s Polar Meteorology Group (PMG) as a code supplement to the WRF release from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). While annual NCAR official releases contain polar modifications, the PMG provides very recent updates to users. PMG supplement versions up to WRF version 3.4 include modified Noah land surface model sea ice representation, allowing the specification of variable sea ice thickness and snow depth over sea ice rather than the default 3-m thickness and 0.05-m snow depth. Starting with WRF V3.5, these options are implemented by NCAR into the standard WRF release. Gridded distributions of Arctic ice thickness and snow depth over sea ice have recently become available. Their impacts are tested with PMG’s WRF V3.5-based Polar WRF in two case studies. First, 20-km-resolution model results for January 1998 are compared with observations during the Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean project. Polar WRF using analyzed thickness and snow depth fields appears to simulate January 1998 slightly better than WRF without polar settings selected. Sensitivity tests show that the simulated impacts of realistic variability in sea ice thickness and snow depth on near-surface temperature is several degrees. The 40-km resolution simulations of a second case study covering Europe and the Arctic Ocean demonstrate remote impacts of Arctic sea ice thickness on midlatitude synoptic meteorology that develop within 2 weeks during a winter 2012 blocking event.

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