Modelling Antarctic Sea Ice
Sea ice is a critical part of our climate system, reflecting solar energy back into our atmosphere, and is instrumental in the generation of storms that alter our weather. Sea ice in turn is influenced by fresh water melt from ice shelves, which both is poorly understood and poorly represented in global climate models.
Using the NZESM and data from other global models, this project is investigating persistence and reversibility of the sea ice response to increased freshwater melt and other anthropogenic climate drivers in the Southern Ocean, and improving the model code to better represent ice shelf melt.
- Traditional climate models often use very simple representations of ice shelf melt that do not vary in space or time. By exploring more realistic spatial distributions of melt and explicit inclusion of icebergs in the NZESM, and comparing this to other less complex models, this project has provided insights into processes that influence the behaviour of sea ice and oceans around Antarctica.
- Code has been developed to incorporate regionally-specific observations of ice shelf melt, into the ocean model within the NZESM. This is significant, as it cannot otherwise be done without the huge computational expense of coupling an ice shelf model.
How this research is being used:
- By being run on the NZ supercomputer Maui, these model developments are available for the first time to all researchers in New Zealand, supporting national development of climate modelling capability.
- Data and code developed in this research are being fed back into an international modelling intercomparison project and code-share repository, contributing to global efforts to better understand the impact of Antarctic ice loss on our climate.
In the media:
Inga SmithUniversity of Otago
Cecilia BitzUniversity of Washington
Jeff RidleyMet Office Hadley Centre
Shona MackieUniversity of Otago
Mara WolkenhauerUniversity of Otago
Torge MartinGEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel
Max ThomasUniversity of Otago
Andrew PaulingUniversity of Otago