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Sensitivity of the Antarctic sea-ice distribution to oceanic heat flux in a coupled atmosphere^sea-ice model

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A coupled atmosphere–sea-ice model is used to study the sensitivity of the Antarctic sea-ice distribution to oceanic heat flux (OHF). Remote sensing of sea ice from microwave radiometers provides data on ice extent and ice concentration. The ice-thickness data used are from ship-based observations. Our simulations suggest that OHF values of 0–5 Wm−2 will cause sea ice to be too thick in the model. A value of 20–25 Wm−2 throughout the year causes sea ice to be too thin in the model. The model results indicate that a seasonally varying OHF is required to match the modelled thickness with observations. Values of 5–30 Wm−2, with an annual mean of 10–15 Wm−2, give a reasonable distribution of sea-ice thickness. This agrees with the limited observations of OHF available for the Antarctic. The model results also indicate that the OHF should be varied spatially. When a seasonally and spatially variable OHF is applied to the coupled atmosphere–sea-ice model a still better simulation of the sea-ice distribution is obtained. Our results also suggest that the role of ice advection is very important in the determination of the sea-ice distribution, and it can be quantified by the model.

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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