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Mitchell Bushuk and Dimitrios Giannakis

Abstract

There is a significant gap between the potential predictability of Arctic sea ice area and the current forecast skill of operational prediction systems. One route to closing this gap is improving understanding of the physical mechanisms, such as sea ice reemergence, which underlie this inherent predictability. Sea ice reemergence refers to the tendency of melt-season sea ice area anomalies to recur the following growth season and growth-season anomalies to recur the following melt season. This study builds on earlier work, providing a mode-based analysis of the seasonality and interannual variability of three distinct reemergence mechanisms. These mechanisms are studied using a common set of coupled modes of variability obtained via coupled nonlinear Laplacian spectral analysis, a data analysis technique for high-dimensional multivariate datasets. The coupled modes capture the covariability of sea ice concentration (SIC), sea surface temperature (SST), sea level pressure (SLP), and sea ice thickness (SIT) in a control integration of a global climate model. Using a parsimonious reemergence mode family, the spatial characteristics of growth-to-melt reemergence are studied, and an SIT–SIC reemergence mechanism is examined. A set of reemergence metrics to quantify the amplitude and phase of growth-to-melt reemergence are introduced. Metrics quantifying SST–SIC and SLP–SIC mechanisms for melt-to-growth reemergence are also computed. A simultaneous comparison of the three reemergence mechanisms, with focus on their seasonality and interannual variability, is performed. Finally, the conclusions are tested in a model hierarchy, consisting of models that share the same sea ice component but differ in their atmospheric and oceanic formulation.

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Mitchell Bushuk, Dimitrios Giannakis, and Andrew J. Majda

Abstract

This paper studies spatiotemporal modes of variability of sea ice concentration and sea surface temperature (SST) in the North Pacific sector in a comprehensive climate model and observations. These modes are obtained via nonlinear Laplacian spectral analysis (NLSA), a recently developed data analysis technique for high-dimensional nonlinear datasets. The existing NLSA algorithm is modified to allow for a scale-invariant coupled analysis of multiple variables in different physical units. The coupled NLSA modes are utilized to investigate North Pacific sea ice reemergence: a process in which sea ice anomalies originating in the melt season (spring) are positively correlated with anomalies in the growth season (fall) despite a loss of correlation in the intervening summer months. It is found that a low-dimensional family of NLSA modes is able to reproduce the lagged correlations observed in sea ice data from the North Pacific Ocean. This mode family exists in both model output and observations and is closely related to the North Pacific gyre oscillation (NPGO), a low-frequency pattern of North Pacific SST variability. Moreover, this mode family provides a mechanism for sea ice reemergence in which summer SST anomalies store the memory of spring sea ice anomalies, allowing for sea ice anomalies of the same sign to appear in the fall season. Lagged correlations in model output and observations are significantly strengthened by conditioning on the NPGO mode being active, in either positive or negative phase. Another family of NLSA modes, related to the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO), is found to capture a winter-to-winter reemergence of SST anomalies.

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Mitchell Bushuk, Dimitrios Giannakis, and Andrew J. Majda

Abstract

Arctic sea ice reemergence is a phenomenon in which spring sea ice anomalies are positively correlated with fall anomalies, despite a loss of correlation over the intervening summer months. This work employs a novel data analysis algorithm for high-dimensional multivariate datasets, coupled nonlinear Laplacian spectral analysis (NLSA), to investigate the regional and temporal aspects of this reemergence phenomenon. Coupled NLSA modes of variability of sea ice concentration (SIC), sea surface temperature (SST), and sea level pressure (SLP) are studied in the Arctic sector of a comprehensive climate model and in observations. It is found that low-dimensional families of NLSA modes are able to efficiently reproduce the prominent lagged correlation features of the raw sea ice data. In both the model and observations, these families provide an SST–sea ice reemergence mechanism, in which melt season (spring) sea ice anomalies are imprinted as SST anomalies and stored over the summer months, allowing for sea ice anomalies of the same sign to reappear in the growth season (fall). The ice anomalies of each family exhibit clear phase relationships between the Barents–Kara Seas, the Labrador Sea, and the Bering Sea, three regions that compose the majority of Arctic sea ice variability. These regional phase relationships in sea ice have a natural explanation via the SLP patterns of each family, which closely resemble the Arctic Oscillation and the Arctic dipole anomaly. These SLP patterns, along with their associated geostrophic winds and surface air temperature advection, provide a large-scale teleconnection between different regions of sea ice variability. Moreover, the SLP patterns suggest another plausible ice reemergence mechanism, via their winter-to-winter regime persistence.

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Liping Zhang, Thomas L. Delworth, William Cooke, Hugues Goosse, Mitchell Bushuk, Yushi Morioka, and Xiaosong Yang

Abstract

Previous studies have shown the existence of internal multidecadal variability in the Southern Ocean using multiple climate models. This variability, associated with deep ocean convection, can have significant climate impacts. In this work, we use sensitivity studies based on Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) models to investigate the linkage of this internal variability with the background ocean mean state. We find that mean ocean stratification in the subpolar region that is dominated by mean salinity influences whether this variability occurs, as well as its time scale. The weakening of background stratification favors the occurrence of deep convection. For background stratification states in which the low-frequency variability occurs, weaker ocean stratification corresponds to shorter periods of variability and vice versa. The amplitude of convection variability is largely determined by the amount of heat that can accumulate in the subsurface ocean during periods of the oscillation without deep convection. A larger accumulation of heat in the subsurface reservoir corresponds to a larger amplitude of variability. The subsurface heat buildup is a balance between advection that supplies heat to the reservoir and vertical mixing/convection that depletes it. Subsurface heat accumulation can be intensified both by an enhanced horizontal temperature advection by the Weddell Gyre and by an enhanced ocean stratification leading to reduced vertical mixing and surface heat loss. The paleoclimate records over Antarctica indicate that this multidecadal variability has very likely happened in past climates and that the period of this variability may shift with different climate background mean state.

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Mitchell Bushuk, Rym Msadek, Michael Winton, Gabriel A. Vecchi, Rich Gudgel, Anthony Rosati, and Xiaosong Yang

Abstract

Because of its persistence on seasonal time scales, Arctic sea ice thickness (SIT) is a potential source of predictability for summer sea ice extent (SIE). New satellite observations of SIT represent an opportunity to harness this potential predictability via improved thickness initialization in seasonal forecast systems. In this work, the evolution of Arctic sea ice volume anomalies is studied using a 700-yr control integration and a suite of initialized ensemble forecasts from a fully coupled global climate model. This analysis is focused on the September sea ice zone, as this is the region where thickness anomalies have the potential to impact the SIE minimum. The primary finding of this paper is that, in addition to a general decay with time, sea ice volume anomalies display a summer enhancement, in which anomalies tend to grow between the months of May and July. This summer enhancement is relatively symmetric for positive and negative volume anomalies and peaks in July regardless of the initial month. Analysis of the surface energy budget reveals that the summer volume anomaly enhancement is driven by a positive feedback between the SIT state and the surface albedo. The SIT state affects surface albedo through changes in the sea ice concentration field, melt-onset date, snow coverage, and ice thickness distribution, yielding an anomaly in the total absorbed shortwave radiation between May and August, which enhances the existing SIT anomaly. This phenomenon highlights the crucial importance of accurate SIT initialization and representation of ice–albedo feedback processes in seasonal forecast systems.

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Mitchell Bushuk, Xiaosong Yang, Michael Winton, Rym Msadek, Matthew Harrison, Anthony Rosati, and Rich Gudgel

ABSTRACT

Dynamical prediction systems have shown potential to meet the emerging need for seasonal forecasts of regional Arctic sea ice. Observationally constrained initial conditions are a key source of skill for these predictions, but the direct influence of different observation types on prediction skill has not yet been systematically investigated. In this work, we perform a hierarchy of observing system experiments with a coupled global data assimilation and prediction system to assess the value of different classes of oceanic and atmospheric observations for seasonal sea ice predictions in the Barents Sea. We find notable skill improvements due to the inclusion of both sea surface temperature (SST) satellite observations and subsurface conductivity–temperature–depth (CTD) measurements. The SST data are found to provide the crucial source of interannual variability, whereas the CTD data primarily provide climatological and trend improvements. Analysis of the Barents Sea ocean heat budget suggests that ocean heat content anomalies in this region are driven by surface heat fluxes on seasonal time scales.

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Yong-Fei Zhang, Mitchell Bushuk, Michael Winton, Bill Hurlin, Xiaosong Yang, Tom Delworth, and Liwei Jia

Abstract

The current GFDL seasonal prediction system achieved retrospective sea ice extent (SIE) skill without direct sea ice data assimilation. Here we develop sea ice data assimilation, shown to be a key source of skill for seasonal sea ice predictions, in GFDL’s next-generation prediction system, the Seamless System for Prediction and Earth System Research (SPEAR). Satellite sea ice concentration (SIC) observations are assimilated into the GFDL Sea Ice Simulator version 2 (SIS2) using the ensemble adjustment Kalman filter (EAKF). Sea ice physics is perturbed to form an ensemble of ice–ocean members with atmospheric forcing from the JRA-55 reanalysis. Assimilation is performed every 5 days from 1982 to 2017 and the evaluation is conducted at pan-Arctic and regional scales over the same period. To mitigate an assimilation overshoot problem and improve the analysis, sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are restored to the daily Optimum Interpolation Sea Surface Temperature version 2 (OISSTv2). The combination of SIC assimilation and SST restoring reduces analysis errors to the observational error level (~10%) from up to 3 times larger than this (~30%) in the free-running model. Sensitivity experiments show that the choice of assimilation localization half-width (190 km) is near optimal and that SIC analysis errors can be further reduced slightly either by reducing the observational error or by increasing the assimilation frequency from every 5 days to daily. A lagged-correlation analysis suggests substantial prediction skill improvements from SIC initialization at lead times of less than 2 months.

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