Articles | Volume 8, issue 4
The Cryosphere, 8, 1195–1204, 2014
The Cryosphere, 8, 1195–1204, 2014

Research article 11 Jul 2014

Research article | 11 Jul 2014

Modeled Arctic sea ice evolution through 2300 in CMIP5 extended RCPs

P. J. Hezel1,*, T. Fichefet1, and F. Massonnet1 P. J. Hezel et al.
  • 1Georges Lemaître Centre for Earth and Climate Research (TECLIM), Earth and Life Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
  • *now at: Geophysical Institute, University of Bergen, and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway

Abstract. Almost all global climate models and Earth system models that participated in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5 (CMIP5) show strong declines in Arctic sea ice extent and volume under the highest forcing scenario of the representative concentration pathways (RCPs) through 2100, including a transition from perennial to seasonal ice cover. Extended RCP simulations through 2300 were completed for a~subset of models, and here we examine the time evolution of Arctic sea ice in these simulations. In RCP2.6, the summer Arctic sea ice extent increases compared to its minimum following the peak radiative forcing in 2044 in all nine models. RCP4.5 demonstrates continued summer Arctic sea ice decline after the forcing stabilizes due to continued warming on longer timescales. Based on the analysis of these two scenarios, we suggest that Arctic summer sea ice extent could begin to recover if and when radiative forcing from greenhouse gas concentrations were to decrease. In RCP8.5 the Arctic Ocean reaches annually ice-free conditions in seven of nine models. The ensemble of simulations completed under the extended RCPs provide insight into the global temperature increase at which sea ice disappears in the Arctic and the reversibility of declines in seasonal sea ice extent.