Arctic Sea Ice in CMIP5 Climate Model Projections and their Seasonal Variability


Title: Arctic Sea Ice in CMIP5 Climate Model Projections and their Seasonal Variability

Journal: Acta Oceanologica Sinica, 36 (8):1-8, doi:10.1007/s13131-017-1029-8

Authors: HUANG F.*, X. Zhou, and H. Wang

Abstract: This paper is focused on the seasonality change of Arctic sea ice extent (SIE) from 1979 to 2100 using newly available simulations from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5). A new approach to compare the simulation metric of Arctic SIE between observation and 31 CMIP5 models was established. The approach is based on four factors including the climatological average, linear trend of SIE, span of melting season and annual range of SIE. It is more objective and can be popularized to other comparison of models. Six good models (GFDL-CM3, CESM1-BGC, MPI-ESM-LR, ACCESS-1.0, HadGEM2-CC, and HadGEM2-AO in turn) are found which meet the criterion closely based on above approach. Based on ensemble mean of the six models, we found that the Arctic sea ice will continue declining in each season and firstly drop below 1 million km2 (defined as the ice-free state) in September 2065 under RCP4.5 scenario and in September 2053 under RCP8.5 scenario. We also study the seasonal cycle of the Arctic SIE and find out the duration of Arctic summer (melting season) will increase by about 100 days under RCP4.5 scenario and about 200 days under RCP8.5 scenario relative to current circumstance by the end of the 21st century. Asymmetry of the Arctic SIE seasonal cycle with later freezing in fall and early melting in spring, would be more apparent in the future when the Arctic climate approaches to “tipping point”, or when the ice-free Arctic Ocean appears. Annual range of SIE (seasonal melting ice extent) will increase almost linearly in the near future 30–40 years before the Arctic appears ice-free ocean, indicating the more ice melting in summer, the more ice freezing in winter, which may cause more extreme weather events in both winter and summer in the future years.