The atmospheric impact of uncertainties in recent Arctic Sea ice reconstructions
Singarayer, J.S., Valdes, P.J. and Bamber, J.L. (2005) The atmospheric impact of uncertainties in recent Arctic Sea ice reconstructions. Journal of Climate, 18 (19). pp. 3996-4012. ISSN 1520-0442
To link to this article DOI: 10.1175/JCLI3490.1
There are significant discrepancies between observational datasets of Arctic sea ice concentrations covering the last three decades, which result in differences of over 20% in Arctic summer sea ice extent/area and 5%–10% in winter. Previous modeling studies have shown that idealized sea ice anomalies have the potential for making a substantial impact on climate. In this paper, this theory is further developed by performing a set of simulations using the third Hadley Centre Coupled Atmospheric Model (HadAM3). The model was driven with monthly climatologies of sea ice fractions derived from three of these records to investigate potential implications of sea ice inaccuracies for climate simulations. The standard sea ice climatology from the Met Office provided a control. This study focuses on the effects of actual inaccuracies of concentration retrievals, which vary spatially and are larger in summer than winter. The smaller sea ice discrepancies in winter have a much larger influence on climate than the much greater summer sea ice differences. High sensitivity to sea ice prescription was observed, even though no SST feedbacks were included. Significant effects on surface fields were observed in the Arctic, North Atlantic, and North Pacific. Arctic average surface air temperature anomalies in winter vary by 2.5°C, and locally exceed 12°C. Arctic mean sea level pressure varies by up to 5 mb locally. Anomalies extend to 45°N over North America and Eurasia but not to lower latitudes, and with limited changes in circulation above the boundary layer. No statistically significant impact on climate variability was simulated, in terms of the North Atlantic Oscillation. Results suggest that the uncertainty in summer sea ice prescription is not critical but that winter values require greater accuracy, with the caveats that the influences of ocean–sea ice feedbacks were not included in this study.