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Response of the Northern Hemisphere sea ice to greenhouse forcing in a global climate model

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The Q-flux Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) global climate model, in which an atmospheric general circulation model is coupled to a mixed-layer ocean with specified horizontal heat transports, is used to simulate the transient and equilibrium climate response to a gradual increase of carbon dioxide (1% per year increase of CO2 to doubled CO2). The results indicate that the current GISS model has a high sensitivity with a global annual warming of about 4°C for doubled CO2. Enhanced warming is found at higher latitudes near sea-ice margins due to retreat of sea ice in the greenhouse experiment. Surface warming is larger in winter than in summer, in part because of the reductions in ice cover and thickness that insulate the winter atmosphere from the ocean. The annual mean reduction of sea-ice cover due to doubled CO2 is about 30% for the Northern Hemisphere. The CO2 experiment has a 70% reduction of sea-ice area and 55% thinning of ice in August in the Northern Hemisphere. Noticeable reduction of sea-ice cover has been found in both historical records and satellite observations. The largest reduction of simulated sea-ice extent occurs in summer, consistent with observations.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2001

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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