Influence of the Southern Annular Mode on the sea ice-ocean system: the role of the thermal and mechanical forcing
- Université Catholique de Louvain, Institut d’astronomie et de géophysique Georges Lemaître, Belgium
Abstract. The global sea ice-ocean model ORCA2-LIM is used to investigate the impact of the thermal and mechanical forcing associated with the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) on the Antarctic sea ice-ocean system. The model is driven by idealized forcings based on regressions between the wind stress and the air temperature at one hand and the SAM index the other hand. The wind-stress component strongly affects the overall patterns of the ocean circulation with a northward surface drift, a downwelling at about 45° S and an upwelling in the vicinity of the Antarctic continent when the SAM is positive. On the other hand, the thermal forcing has a negligible effect on the ocean currents. For sea ice, both the wind-stress (mechanical) and the air temperature (thermal) components have a significant impact. The mechanical part induces a decrease of the sea ice thickness close to the continent and a sharp decrease of the mean sea ice thickness in the Weddell sector. In general, the sea ice area also diminishes, with a maximum decrease in the Weddell Sea. On the contrary, the thermal part tends to increase the ice concentration in all sectors except in the Weddell Sea, where the ice area shrinks. This thermal effect is the strongest in autumn and in winter due to the larger temperature differences associated with the SAM during these seasons. The sum of the thermal and mechaninal effects gives a dipole response of sea ice to the SAM, with a decrease of the ice area in the Weddell Sea and around the Antarctic Peninsula and an increase in the Ross and Amundsen Seas during high SAM years. This is in good agreement with the observed response of the ice cover to the SAM.