What is it about?

Antarctic sea ice is mostly seasonal, and each year, some 15 million square kilometres of sea ice grows and then melts again. There is large interannual variability in how much ice grows each year, but there is always a longer growing period (7 months) than a melting period (5 months). Winds that circle the continent are thought to slow the growth and increase the melt of sea ice but this relationship has yet to be quantified. We used an 86-year historical run from a climate model to examine the relationship between the low-pressure band that drives these winds and the sea ice extent. Our analysis supports the theory that divergence is spring opens up warmer water regions that help to melt the ice faster through thte ice-ocean albedo effect.

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Why is it important?

Climate models provide an important tool for interpreting Antarctic sea-ice observations, but until we can understand the processes that drive the annual cycle and adequately model them, we are limited in our ability to model future changes and understand the processes that drive them. This work contributes an important part of ultimately reaching that global understanding.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Mechanisms driving the asymmetric seasonal cycle of Antarctic Sea Ice in the CESM Large Ensemble, Annals of Glaciology, May 2020, Cambridge University Press, DOI: 10.1017/aog.2020.26.
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