Will Arctic sea ice thickness initialization improve seasonal forecast skill?
To link to this article DOI: 10.1002/2014GL061694
Arctic sea ice thickness is thought to be an important predictor of Arctic sea ice extent. However, coupled seasonal forecast systems do not generally use sea ice thickness observations in their initialization and are therefore missing a potentially important source of additional skill. To investigate how large this source is, a set of ensemble potential predictability experiments with a global climate model, initialized with and without knowledge of the sea ice thickness initial state, have been run. These experiments show that accurate knowledge of the sea ice thickness field is crucially important for sea ice concentration and extent forecasts up to 8 months ahead, especially in summer. Perturbing sea ice thickness also has a significant impact on the forecast error in Arctic 2 m temperature a few months ahead. These results suggest that advancing capabilities to observe and assimilate sea ice thickness into coupled forecast systems could significantly increase skill.