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The Arctic Sea ice in the CMIP3 climate model ensemble – variability and anthropogenic change

DOI: 10.5194/tcd-6-5317-2012

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Abstract:

The strongest manifestation of global warming is observed in the Arctic. The warming in the Arctic during the recent decades is about twice as strong as in the global average and has been accompanied by a summer sea ice decline that is very likely unprecedented during the last millennium. Here, Arctic sea ice variability is analyzed in the ensemble of CMIP3 models. Complementary to several previous studies, we focus on regional aspects, in particular on the Barents Sea. We also investigate the changes in the seasonal cycle and interannual variability. In all regions, the models predict a reduction in sea ice area and sea ice volume during 1900–2100. Toward the end of the 21st century, the models simulate higher sea ice area variability in September than in March, whereas the variability in the preindustrial control runs is higher in March. Furthermore, the amplitude and phase of the sea ice seasonal cycle change in response to enhanced greenhouse warming. The amplitude of the sea ice area seasonal cycle increases due to the very strong sea ice area decline in September. The seasonal cycle amplitude of the sea ice volume decreases due to the stronger reduction of sea ice volume in March. Multi-model mean estimates for the late 20th century are comparable with observational data only for the entire Arctic and the Central Arctic. In the Barents Sea, differences between the multi-model mean and the observational data are more pronounced. Regional sea ice sensitivity to Northern Hemisphere average surface warming has been investigated.

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