Arctic Ocean freshwater: How robust are model simulations?

Peer Reviewed

Jahn A, Aksenov Y, Cuevas BA, Steur L, Häkkinen S, Hansen E, Herbaut C , Houssais M-N, Karcher M, Kauker F, Lique C, Nguyen A, Pemberton P, Worthen D, & Zhang J

Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans (1978–2012) 117, Issue C8, pages C00D16, 2012, 10.1029/2012JC007907.

The Arctic freshwater (FW) has been the focus of many modeling studies, due to the potential impact of Arctic FW on the deep water formation in the North Atlantic. A comparison of the hindcasts from ten ocean-sea ice models shows that the simulation of the Arctic FW budget is quite different in the investigated models. While they agree on the general sink and source terms of the Arctic FW budget, the long-term means as well as the variability of the FW export vary among models. The best model-to-model agreement is found for the interannual and seasonal variability of the solid FW export and the solid FW storage, which also agree well with observations. For the interannual and seasonal variability of the liquid FW export, the agreement among models is better for the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (CAA) than for Fram Strait. The reason for this is that models are more consistent in simulating volume flux anomalies than salinity anomalies and volume-flux anomalies dominate the liquid FW export variability in the CAA but not in Fram Strait. The seasonal cycle of the liquid FW export generally shows a better agreement among models than the interannual variability, and compared to observations the models capture the seasonality of the liquid FW export rather well. In order to improve future simulations of the Arctic FW budget, the simulation of the salinity field needs to be improved, so that model results on the variability of the liquid FW export and storage become more robust.

Keywords: Arctic, Export, Freshwater, Model intercomparison, Modeling
Categories: Arctic, Natural Science