Sea-ice and North Atlantic climate response to CO2-induced warming and cooling conditions

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Using a global climate model coupled with an ocean and a sea-ice model, we compare the effects of doubling CO2 and halving CO2 on sea-ice cover and connections with the atmosphere and ocean. An overall warming in the 2 × CO2 experiment causes reduction of sea-ice extent by 15%, with maximum decrease in summer and autumn, consistent with observed seasonal sea-ice changes. The intensification of the Northern Hemisphere circulation is reflected in the positive phase of the Arctic Oscillation (AO), associated with higher-than-normal surface pressure south of about 50° N and lower-than-normal surface pressure over the high northern latitudes. Strengthening the polar cell causes enhancement of westerlies around the Arctic perimeter during winter. Cooling, in the 0.5 × CO2 experiment, leads to thicker and more extensive sea ice. In the Southern Hemisphere, the increase in ice-covered area (28%) dominates the ice-thickness increase (5%) due to open ocean to the north. In the Northern Hemisphere, sea-ice cover increases by only 8% due to the enclosed land/sea configuration, but sea ice becomes much thicker (108%). Substantial weakening of the polar cell due to increase in sea-level pressure over polar latitudes leads to a negative trend of the winter AO index. The model reproduces large year-to-year variability under both cooling and warming conditions.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2006

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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