C15 Cryosphere, Atmosphere and Climate: Evaluation of the Cryosphere in CMIP5 Models

IACS (Cryosphere)

23-Jun-2015, 15:00 - 16:30

Abstract content:

Anthropogenic influence on recent Antarctic sea-ice changes: Why do models and observations disagree?

Observations reveal an increase of Antarctic sea ice over the past three decades, yet global climate models tend to simulate a sea-ice decrease for that period. Here we combine observations with model experiments (MPI-ESM) to investigate causes for this discrepancy and for the observed sea ice increase. Based on observations and atmospheric reanalysis, we show that on multidecadal time scales Antarctic sea-ice changes are linked to intensified meridional winds that are caused by a zonally asymmetric lowering of the high-latitude surface pressure. In our simulations, this surface pressure lowering is a response to a combination of anthropogenic stratospheric ozone depletion and greenhouse gas increase. Combining these two lines of argument, we infer a possible anthropogenic influence on the observed sea-ice changes. However, similar to other models, MPI-ESM simulates a surface-pressure response that is rather zonally symmetric and has a too unstable Southern Ocean stratification, which explains why the simulated sea-ice response differs from observations.

A. Haumann1,2,3, D. Notz1, H. Schmidt2.
1Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Sea Ice in the Earth System, Hamburg, Germany.
2Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, The Atmosphere in the Earth System, Hamburg, Germany.


Antarctic     sea ice     climate change     anthropogenic     model     observations     atmospheric circulation