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Improved simulation of Antarctic sea ice due to the radiative effects of falling snow

Li, J.-L. F., Richardson, M., Hong, Y., Lee, W.-L., Wang, Y.-H., Yu, J.-Y., Fetzer, E., Stephens, G. and Liu, Y. (2017) Improved simulation of Antarctic sea ice due to the radiative effects of falling snow. Environmental Research Letters, 12 (8). 084010. ISSN 1748-9326

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/aa7a17


Southern Ocean sea-ice cover exerts critical control on local albedo and Antarctic precipitation, but simulated Antarctic sea-ice concentration commonly disagrees with observations. Here we show that the radiative effects of precipitating ice (falling snow) contribute substantially to this discrepancy. Many models exclude these radiative effects, so they underestimate both shortwave albedo and downward longwave radiation. Using two simulations with the climate model CESM1, we show that including falling-snow radiative effects improves the simulations relative to cloud properties from CloudSat-CALIPSO, radiation from CERES-EBAF and sea-ice concentration from passive microwave sensors. From 50–70°S, the simulated sea-ice-area bias is reduced by 2.12 × 106 km2 (55%) in winter and by 1.17 × 106 km2 (39%) in summer, mainly because increased wintertime longwave heating restricts sea-ice growth and so reduces summer albedo. Improved Antarctic sea-ice simulations will increase confidence in projected Antarctic sea level contributions and changes in global warming driven by long-term changes in Southern Ocean feedbacks.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:73367
Publisher:Institute of Physics


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