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Gregory M. Flato and William D. Hibler III

Abstract

Polar ocean circulation is influenced by fluxes of salt and freshwater at the surface as ice freeze in one location, is transported by the winds and currents, and melts again elsewhere. The motion of sea ice, moreover, is strongly affected by internal stresses that arise from the mechanical strength of the ice cover. A simple sea-ice dynamics model, allowing these effects to be included in large-scale climate studies, is presented. In this model a cavitating fluid behaviour is assumed whereby the ice pack does not resist divergence or shear, but does resist convergence. While less realistic than other rheologies that include shear strength, this assumption has certain advantages for long-term climate studies. First, it allows a simple and efficient numerical scheme, in both rectangular and spherical coordinates, which as developed here along with a generation to include shear strength via the Mohr-Coulomb failure criteria. Second, realistic ice transport is maintained, even when the model is driven by smoothed wind forcing–a feature that may be useful in coupled ice-ocean climate models using mean monthly or mean annual winds. Finally, the lack of shear strength allows smooth flow past an obstacle, making the scheme attractive for coupling to a global ocean circulation model using an artificial island to avoid the mathematical singularity at the North Pole. Noteworthy. however, is the fact that the numerical scheme developed here does not require an island at the pole, making the model equally suited for coupling to a global atmospheric circulation model.

Three-year dynamic-themodynamic simulations using observed forcing from 1981 to 1983 are performed using the cavitating fluid model and a more complete viscous-plastic model for comparison. The thickness buildup patterns, net ice growth, atmospheric heat flux, and total ice volume calculated by the cavitating fluid model are very similar to the viscous-plastic model results; however, the cavitating fluid model substantially overestimates local ice drift when compared to observed buoy drift. A 3-year simulation using the spherical grid version of the model, both with and without an artificial island at the pole, shows that the island has little impact on the thickness buildup and ice transport. Overall, the cavitating fluid approximation is shown to be a useful simplification, allowing essential feedback between ocean circulation and ice transport to be efficiently included in large-scale climate studies.

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John C. Fyfe and Gregory M. Flato

Abstract

Results from an ensemble of climate change experiments with increasing greenhouse gas and aerosols using the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis Coupled Climate Model are presented with a focus on surface quantities over the Rocky Mountains. There is a marked elevation dependency of the simulated surface screen temperature increase over the Rocky Mountains in the winter and spring seasons, with more pronounced changes at higher elevations. The elevation signal is linked to a rise in the snow line in the winter and spring seasons, which amplifies the surface warming via the snow-albedo feedback. Analysis of the winter surface energy budget shows that large changes in the solar component of the radiative input are the direct consequence of surface albedo changes caused by decreasing snow cover.

Although the warming signal is enhanced at higher elevations, a two-way analysis of variance reveals that the elevation effect has no potential for early climate change detection. In the early stages of surface warming the elevation effect is masked by relatively large noise, so that the signal-to-noise ratio over the Rocky Mountains is no larger than elsewhere. Only after significant continental-scale warming does the local Rocky Mountain signal begin to dominate the pattern of climate change over western North America (and presumably also the surrounding ecosystems and hydrological networks).

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C. M. Bitz, John C. Fyfe, and Gregory M. Flato

Abstract

The Arctic surface circulation simulated by atmospheric general circulation models is assessed in the context of driving sea ice motion. A sea ice model is forced by geostrophic winds from eight models participating in the first Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project (AMIP1), and the results are compared to simulations with the sea ice model forced by observed winds. The mean sea level pressure in the AMIP models is generally too high over the Arctic Ocean, except in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, where it is too low. This pattern creates anomalous winds that tend to transport too much ice away from the coast of Greenland and the Canadian Archipalego, and into the East Siberian Sea, producing a pattern of ice thickness in the Arctic that is rotated by roughly 180° relative to what is expected based on observations. AMIP winds also drive too little ice transport through Fram Strait and too much transport east of Svalbard by way of the Barents Sea. These errors in ice thickness and transport influence ice growth and melt rates and hence the freshwater flux into the ocean. Sensitivity experiments that test the model response to the wind composition show the ice thickness patterns depend primarily on the climatological mean annual cycle of the geostrophic winds. Daily wind variability is necessary to create sufficient ice deformation and open water, but the sea ice behavior is rather insensitive to the details of the daily variations.

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William J. Merryfield, Woo-Sung Lee, George J. Boer, Viatcheslav V. Kharin, John F. Scinocca, Gregory M. Flato, R. S. Ajayamohan, John C. Fyfe, Youmin Tang, and Saroja Polavarapu

Abstract

The Canadian Seasonal to Interannual Prediction System (CanSIPS) became operational at Environment Canada's Canadian Meteorological Centre (CMC) in December 2011, replacing CMC's previous two-tier system. CanSIPS is a two-model forecasting system that combines ensemble forecasts from the Canadian Centre for Climate Modeling and Analysis (CCCma) Coupled Climate Model, versions 3 and 4 (CanCM3 and CanCM4, respectively). Mean climate as well as climate trends and variability in these models are evaluated in freely running historical simulations. Initial conditions for CanSIPS forecasts are obtained from an ensemble of coupled assimilation runs. These runs assimilate gridded atmospheric analyses by means of a procedure that resembles the incremental analysis update technique, but introduces only a fraction of the analysis increment in order that differences between ensemble members reflect the magnitude of observational uncertainties. The land surface is initialized through its response to the assimilative meteorology, whereas sea ice concentration and sea surface temperature are relaxed toward gridded observational values. The subsurface ocean is initialized through surface forcing provided by the assimilation run, together with an offline variational assimilation of gridded observational temperatures followed by an adjustment of the salinity field to preserve static stability. The performance of CanSIPS historical forecasts initialized every month over the period 1981–2010 is documented in a companion paper. The CanCM4 model and the initialization procedures developed for CanSIPS have been employed as well for decadal forecasts, including those contributing to phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project.

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R. J. Stouffer, J. Yin, J. M. Gregory, K. W. Dixon, M. J. Spelman, W. Hurlin, A. J. Weaver, M. Eby, G. M. Flato, H. Hasumi, A. Hu, J. H. Jungclaus, I. V. Kamenkovich, A. Levermann, M. Montoya, S. Murakami, S. Nawrath, A. Oka, W. R. Peltier, D. Y. Robitaille, A. Sokolov, G. Vettoretti, and S. L. Weber

Abstract

The Atlantic thermohaline circulation (THC) is an important part of the earth's climate system. Previous research has shown large uncertainties in simulating future changes in this critical system. The simulated THC response to idealized freshwater perturbations and the associated climate changes have been intercompared as an activity of World Climate Research Program (WCRP) Coupled Model Intercomparison Project/Paleo-Modeling Intercomparison Project (CMIP/PMIP) committees. This intercomparison among models ranging from the earth system models of intermediate complexity (EMICs) to the fully coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation models (AOGCMs) seeks to document and improve understanding of the causes of the wide variations in the modeled THC response. The robustness of particular simulation features has been evaluated across the model results. In response to 0.1-Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) freshwater input in the northern North Atlantic, the multimodel ensemble mean THC weakens by 30% after 100 yr. All models simulate some weakening of the THC, but no model simulates a complete shutdown of the THC. The multimodel ensemble indicates that the surface air temperature could present a complex anomaly pattern with cooling south of Greenland and warming over the Barents and Nordic Seas. The Atlantic ITCZ tends to shift southward. In response to 1.0-Sv freshwater input, the THC switches off rapidly in all model simulations. A large cooling occurs over the North Atlantic. The annual mean Atlantic ITCZ moves into the Southern Hemisphere. Models disagree in terms of the reversibility of the THC after its shutdown. In general, the EMICs and AOGCMs obtain similar THC responses and climate changes with more pronounced and sharper patterns in the AOGCMs.

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