Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-245
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-245

  16 Aug 2021

16 Aug 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Influences of changing sea ice and snow thicknesses on Arctic winter heat fluxes

Laura L. Landrum and Marika M. Holland Laura L. Landrum and Marika M. Holland
  • National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, USA

Abstract. In the high latitude Arctic, wintertime sea ice and snow insulate the relatively warmer ocean from the colder atmosphere. As the climate warms, wintertime Arctic surface heat fluxes will be dominated by the insulating effect of snow and sea-ice covering the ocean until the sea ice thins enough or sea ice concentrations decrease enough such that direct ocean-atmosphere heat fluxes become more important. Simulated wintertime conductive heat fluxes in the ice-covered Arctic Ocean increase ~7–11 W m−2 by mid-21st century and are due to both thinning sea ice and snow on sea ice. Surface heat flux estimates calculated using grid-cell mean values of sea ice thicknesses underestimate mean heat fluxes by ~16–35 % and overestimate changes in conductive heat fluxes by up to ~36 % in the wintertime Arctic basin even while sea ice concentrations remain above 90 %.

Laura L. Landrum and Marika M. Holland

Status: open (until 25 Oct 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on tc-2021-245', Anonymous Referee #1, 16 Sep 2021 reply

Laura L. Landrum and Marika M. Holland

Laura L. Landrum and Marika M. Holland

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Short summary
Arctic winter sea ice and snow insulate the relatively warmer ocean from the colder atmosphere. Arctic sea ice thins as the climate warms, and more heat is then conducted from the ocean through the ice to the atmosphere and increases Arctic warming. Snow – a much more effective insulator than ice – is much thinner than the sea ice, yet changes in heat flux due to thinning snow are nearly as great as the changes due to thinning ice.