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The influence of the spatial distribution of leads and ice floes on the atmospheric boundary layer over fragmented sea ice

  • Marta Wenta (a1) and Agnieszka Herman (a1)
Abstract

The response of the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) to subgrid-scale variations of sea ice properties and fracturing is poorly understood and not taken into account in mesoscale Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) model parametrizations. In this paper we analyze three-dimensional air circulation within the ABL over fragmented sea ice. A series of idealized high-resolution simulations with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model is performed for several spatial distributions of ice floes and leads for two values of sea ice concentration (0.5 and 0.9) and several ambient wind speed profiles. The results show that the convective circulation within the ABL is sensitive to the subgrid-scale spatial distribution of sea ice. Considerable variability of several domain-averaged quantities – cloud liquid water content, surface turbulent heat flux (THF) – is found for different arrangements of floes. Moreover, the organized structure of air circulation leads to spatial covariance of variables characterizing the ABL. Based on the example of THF, it is demonstrated that this covariance may lead to substantial errors when THF values are estimated from area-averaged quantities, as it is done in mesoscale NWP models. This suggests the need for developing suitable parametrizations of ABL effects related to subgrid-scale sea ice features for these models.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the same Creative Commons licence is included and the original work is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use.
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