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Volume 12, issue 9 | Copyright
The Cryosphere, 12, 2855-2868, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-12-2855-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 06 Sep 2018

Research article | 06 Sep 2018

Investigating future changes in the volume budget of the Arctic sea ice in a coupled climate model

Ann Keen and Ed Blockley Ann Keen and Ed Blockley
  • Met Office, Fitzroy Road, Exeter, EX1 3PB, UK

Abstract. We present a method for analysing changes in the modelled volume budget of the Arctic sea ice as the ice declines during the 21st century. We apply the method to the CMIP5 global coupled model HadGEM2-ES to evaluate how the budget components evolve under a range of different forcing scenarios. As the climate warms and the ice cover declines, the sea ice processes that change the most in HadGEM2-ES are summer melting at the top surface of the ice due to increased net downward radiation and basal melting due to extra heat from the warming ocean. There is also extra basal ice formation due to the thinning ice. However, the impact of these changes on the volume budget is affected by the declining ice cover. For example, as the autumn ice cover declines the volume of ice formed by basal growth declines as there is a reduced area over which this ice growth can occur. As a result, the biggest contribution to Arctic ice decline in HadGEM2-ES is the reduction in the total amount of basal ice growth during the autumn and early winter.

Changes in the volume budget during the 21st century have a distinctive seasonal cycle, with processes contributing to ice decline occurring in May–June and September to November. During July and August the total amount of sea ice melt decreases, again due to the reducing ice cover.

The choice of forcing scenario affects the rate of ice decline and the timing and magnitude of changes in the volume budget components. For the HadGEM2-ES model and for the range of scenarios considered for CMIP5, the mean changes in the volume budget depend strongly on the evolving ice area and are independent of the speed at which the ice cover declines.

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As the climate warms during the 21st century, our model shows extra melting at the top and the base of the Arctic sea ice. The reducing ice cover affects the impact these processes have on the sea ice volume budget, where the largest individual change is a reduction in the amount of growth at the base of existing ice. Using different forcing scenarios we show that, for this model, changes in the volume budget depend on the evolving ice area but not on the speed at which the ice area declines.
As the climate warms during the 21st century, our model shows extra melting at the top and the...
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