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Simulating transient ice-ocean Ekman transport in the Regional Arctic System Model and Community Earth System Model

  • Andrew Roberts (a1), Anthony Craig (a1), Wieslaw Maslowski (a1), Robert Osinski (a2), Alice Duvivier (a3), Mimi Hughes (a3), Bart Nijssen (a4), John Cassano (a3) and Michael Brunke (a5)...

This work evaluates the fidelity of the polar marine Ekman layer in the Regional Arctic System Model (RASM) and Community Earth System Model (CESM) using sea-ice inertial oscillations as a proxy for ice-ocean Ekman transport. A case study is presented that demonstrates that RASM replicates inertial oscillations in close agreement with motion derived using the GPS. This result is obtained from a year-long case study pre-dating the recent decline in perennial Arctic sea ice, using RASM with sub-hourly coupling between the atmosphere, sea-ice and ocean components. To place this work in context, the RASM coupling method is applied to CESM, increasing the frequency of oceanic flux exchange from once per day in the standard CESM configuration, to every 30 min. For a single year simulation, this change causes a considerable increase in the median inertial ice speed across large areas of the Southern Ocean and parts of the Arctic sea-ice zone. The result suggests that processes associated with the passage of storms over sea ice (e.g. oceanic mixing, sea-ice deformation and surface energy exchange) are underestimated in Earth System Models that do not resolve inertial frequencies in their marine coupling cycle.

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