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Contrasting the Antarctic and Arctic Atmospheric Responses to Projected Sea Ice Loss in the Late Twenty-First Century
  • Published Date:
    2018
  • Source:
    Journal of Climate, 31(16), 6353-6370.
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Contrasting the Antarctic and Arctic Atmospheric Responses to Projected Sea Ice Loss in the Late Twenty-First Century
Details:
  • Description:
    Models project that Antarctic sea ice area will decline considerably by the end of this century, but the consequences remain largely unexplored. Here, the atmospheric response to future sea ice loss in the Antarctic is investigated, and contrasted to the Arctic case, using the Community Earth Systems Model (CESM) Whole Atmosphere Coupled Climate Model (WACCM). Time-slice model runs with historic sea ice concentrations are compared to runs with future concentrations, from the late twenty-first century, in each hemisphere separately. As for the Arctic, results indicate that Antarctic sea ice loss will act to shift the tropospheric jet equatorward, an internal negative feedback to the poleward shift associated with increased greenhouse gases. Also, the tropospheric response to Antarctic sea ice loss is found to be somewhat weaker, more vertically confined, and less seasonally varying than in the case of Arctic sea ice loss. The stratospheric response to Antarctic sea ice loss is relatively weak compared to the Arctic case, although it is here demonstrated that the latter is still small relative to internal variability. In contrast to the Arctic case, the response of the ozone layer is found to be positive (up to 5 Dobson units): interestingly, it is present in all seasons except austral spring. Finally, while the response of surface temperature and precipitation is limited to the southern high latitudes, it is nonetheless unable to impact the interior of the Antarctic continent, suggesting a minor role of sea ice loss on recent Antarctic temperature trends.

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