Pan-Arctic and regional sea ice predictability: initialization month dependence
To link to this article DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00614.1
Seasonal-to-interannual predictions of Arctic sea ice may be important for Arctic communities and industries alike. Previous studies have suggested that Arctic sea ice is potentially predictable but that the skill of predictions of the September extent minimum, initialized in early summer, may be low. The authors demonstrate that a melt season “predictability barrier” and two predictability reemergence mechanisms, suggested by a previous study, are robust features of five global climate models. Analysis of idealized predictions with one of these models [Hadley Centre Global Environment Model, version 1.2 (HadGEM1.2)], initialized in January, May and July, demonstrates that this predictability barrier exists in initialized forecasts as well. As a result, the skill of sea ice extent and volume forecasts are strongly start date dependent and those that are initialized in May lose skill much faster than those initialized in January or July. Thus, in an operational setting, initializing predictions of extent and volume in July has strong advantages for the prediction of the September minimum when compared to predictions initialized in May. Furthermore, a regional analysis of sea ice predictability indicates that extent is predictable for longer in the seasonal ice zones of the North Atlantic and North Pacific than in the regions dominated by perennial ice in the central Arctic and marginal seas. In a number of the Eurasian shelf seas, which are important for Arctic shipping, only the forecasts initialized in July have continuous skill during the first summer. In contrast, predictability of ice volume persists for over 2 yr in the central Arctic but less in other regions.