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Mechanisms causing reduced Arctic sea ice loss in a coupled climate model

DOI: 10.5194/tcd-6-2653-2012

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Abstract:

The fully-coupled climate model HadGEM1 produces one of the most accurate simulations of the historical record of Arctic sea ice seen in the IPCC AR4 multi-model ensemble. In this study, we examine projections of sea ice decline out to 2030, produced by two ensembles of HadGEM1 with natural and anthropogenic forcings included. These ensembles project a significant slowing of the rate of ice loss to occur after 2010, with some integrations even simulating a small increase in ice area. We use an energy budget of the Arctic to examine the causes of this slowdown. A negative feedback effect by which rapid reductions in ice thickness north of Greenland reduce ice export is found to play a major role. A slight reduction in ocean-to-ice heat flux in the relevant period, caused by changes in the MOC and subpolar gyre in some integrations, is also found to play a part. Finally, we assess the likelihood of a slowdown occurring in the real world due to these causes.

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