Thermodynamic processes affecting the winter sea ice changes in the Bering Sea in the Norwegian Earth System Model
Abstract. The Arctic sea ice has changed largely over the last decades and is expected to change in the future. In this study, we assess sea ice changes in the Pacific sector of the Arctic in an Earth System Model. In winter, the first Empirical Orthogonal Function of sea ice concentration in the Pacific sector of the Arctic based on observations are significantly opposite to that in the Atlantic sector during a period from 1976 to 2004, describing 13.4 % of the total Arctic winter sea ice variability. The similar pattern is also confirmed in the Norwegian Earth System Model (NorESM1-M) (15.8 %). Thermodynamics is found to be vital to winter sea ice variability. In this study, we analyze the relationships between some thermodynamical processes (congelation ice, frazil ice, bottom and top ice melting, and conversion of snow to ice) and sea ice changes in the Bering Sea, based on the NorESM1-M coupled climate model results. All these studied thermodynamical processes can influence the variability in winter sea ice concentration and thickness in the Bering Sea. Considering the mean seasonal cycle over the 30-year time period, conversion of snow to ice contributes about 69 % to the increase in sea ice mass during winter in the Bering Sea, and it is thus the main source to the growth of the winter sea ice in NorESM1-M in the Bering Sea. On the interannual time scales, winter sea ice concentration and thickness variability in the Bering Sea are highly related with the studied thermodynamic processes. Among these thermodynamic processes, congelation ice shows the most important effect on the simulated variability in the Bering Sea, especially in the northeastern part.
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