13 Jul 2022
13 Jul 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Arctic sea ice mass balance in a new coupled ice-ocean model using a brittle rheology framework

Guillaume Boutin1, Einar Örn Ólason1, Pierre Rampal2, Heather Regan1, Camille Lique3, Claude Talandier3, Laurent Brodeau2, and Robert Ricker4 Guillaume Boutin et al.
  • 1Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center, and the Bjerknes Center for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway
  • 2CNRS, Institut de Géophysique de l’Environnement, Grenoble, France
  • 3Univ. Brest, CNRS, IRD, Ifremer, Laboratoire d’Océanographie Physique et Spatiale, IUEM, Brest 29280, France
  • 4NORCE Norwegian Research Centre, Tromsø, Norway

Abstract. Sea ice is a key component of the Earth’s climate system as it modulates the energy exchanges and associated feedback processes at the air-sea interface in polar regions. These exchanges strongly depend on openings in the sea ice cover, which are associated with fine-scale sea ice deformations, but the importance of these processes remains poorly understood as most numerical models struggle to represent these deformations without using very costly horizontal resolutions ( 2 km). In this study, we present results from a 12 km resolution ocean–sea-ice coupled model, the first that uses a brittle rheology to represent the mechanical behaviour of sea ice. Using this rheology enables the reproduction of the observed characteristics and complexity of fine-scale sea ice deformations with little dependency on the mesh resolution. We evaluate and discuss the Arctic sea ice mass balance of this coupled model for the period 2000–2018. We first assess sea ice quantities relevant for climate (volume, extent and drift) and find that they are consistent with satellite observations. We evaluate components of the mass balance for which observations are available, i.e. sea ice volume export through Fram Strait and winter mass balance in the Arctic marginal seas for the period 2003–2018. The model performs well, particularly for the dynamic contribution to the winter mass balance. We discuss the relative contributions of dynamics and thermodynamics to the sea ice mass balance in the Arctic Basin for 2000–2018. Benefitting from the model's ability to reproduce fine-scale sea ice deformations, we estimate that the formation of sea ice in leads and polynyas contributes to 25 %–35 % of the total ice growth in pack ice from January to March, with a significant increase over 2000–2018. This coupled framework opens up new opportunities to understand and quantify the interplay between small-scale sea ice dynamics and ocean properties.

Guillaume Boutin et al.

Status: open (until 07 Sep 2022)

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  • RC1: 'comment on tc-2022-142', Anonymous Referee #1, 08 Aug 2022 reply

Guillaume Boutin et al.

Guillaume Boutin et al.


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Short summary
Sea ice cover in the Arctic is full of cracks, that we call leads. We suspect that these leads play a role for atmosphere-ocean interactions in polar regions, but their importance remains challenging to estimate. We use a new ocean–sea-ice model with an original way of representing sea ice dynamics to estimate their impact on winter sea ice production. This model successfully represents sea ice evolution from 2000 to 2018, and we find that about 30 % of ice production takes place in leads.