Volume 127, Issue 12 e2022JC018436
Research Article

Thermodynamical and Dynamical Impacts of an Intense Cyclone on Arctic Sea Ice

Zhongxiang Tian

Zhongxiang Tian

Key Laboratory of Marine Hazards Forecasting, National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center, Ministry of Natural Resources, Beijing, China

Contribution: Conceptualization, Methodology, Formal analysis, Writing - original draft

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Xi Liang

Corresponding Author

Xi Liang

Key Laboratory of Marine Hazards Forecasting, National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center, Ministry of Natural Resources, Beijing, China

Correspondence to:

X. Liang,

[email protected]

Contribution: Conceptualization, Methodology, Writing - review & editing

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Jinlun Zhang

Jinlun Zhang

Polar Science Center, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

Contribution: Writing - review & editing

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Haibo Bi

Haibo Bi

Key Laboratory of Marine Geology and Environment, Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao, China

Laboratory for Marine Geology, Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, Qingdao, China

Contribution: Writing - review & editing

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Fu Zhao

Fu Zhao

Key Laboratory of Marine Hazards Forecasting, National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center, Ministry of Natural Resources, Beijing, China

Contribution: Formal analysis, Writing - review & editing

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Chunhua Li

Chunhua Li

Key Laboratory of Marine Hazards Forecasting, National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center, Ministry of Natural Resources, Beijing, China

Contribution: Writing - review & editing

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First published: 15 December 2022
Citations: 2

Abstract

This study investigates the thermodynamical and dynamical influences of the intense cyclone in the Arctic Ocean in August 2012 on the synoptic-scale sea ice evolution, using the Arctic Ice Ocean Prediction System (ArcIOPS). As it is hard to fully isolate sea ice loss owing to extreme cyclone from that owing to background atmospheric state in most previous studies on this topic, this study introduces a newly developed algorithm to remove the cyclone component in atmospheric forcing, and conducts sea ice and heat budget analyses in two simulations driven by atmospheric forcing with and without the cyclone. Strong impact of the intense cyclone on sea ice locates on the east side of the cyclone's path, that is, Pacific Arctic for this case. The cyclone affects sea ice in two ways. First, cyclone-induced enhancement in ice-ocean interaction leads to increased sea ice basal melt in the Pacific Arctic and part of the Atlantic Arctic, which induces strong sea ice area and volume loss when the cyclone's intensity peaks. Second, as the cyclone strengthens, the increases in air temperature, humidity and wind speed accelerate turbulent heat exchange at the air-ocean and air-ice interfaces, leading to enhanced local sea ice surface melt in the Chukchi Sea and northern Beaufort Sea. The cyclone-induced strong winds stir sea ice leading to enhanced gradients in sea ice velocity field and thus increased sea ice deformation, which further induces strong sea ice area loss. This study also demonstrates a precise atmospheric forcing field is essential for sea ice modeling.

Key Points

  • Removing a cyclone from the atmospheric forcing in an Arctic model reveals its contributions to sea ice loss along its trajectory

  • Oceanic and turbulent heat fluxes are the key factors driving enhanced ice basal and surface melt during an intense cyclone in the Arctic

  • Strong sea ice loss locates on the east side of the trajectory of an intense cyclone

Plain Language Summary

We use a numerical model to study the effects of a strong Arctic cyclone on sea ice. First, we use a newly developed “cyclone removal algorithm” to remove the cyclone from the atmospheric data that is used to force the model. We can then compare how the sea ice changes between the model runs with and without the cyclone. We find that the cyclone has a strong local impact on sea ice, and sea ice losses are different on the two sides of the cyclone's path. The cyclone results in warm, moist air and strong wind, which leads to strong sea ice surface melting. At the same time, the cyclone increases the transfer of heat from the ocean to the sea ice, causing strong sea ice bottom melting. The strong wind also leads to more sea ice ridging and a reduction in sea ice area. Our study indicates that the effects of cyclones on sea ice are complex and that atmospheric data must accurately represent cyclones if we want to correctly model changes in the Arctic sea ice.

Data Availability Statement

The authors thank the Japan Meteorological Agency for JRA-55 data (http://search.diasjp.net/en/dataset/JRA55), the University of Hamburg for SSMI (https://icdc.cen.uni-hamburg.de/thredds/aggregationSsmiAsiCatalog.html) and SMOS (http://icdc.cen.uni-hamburg.de/1/daten/cryosphere/l3c-smos-sit.html) data, the Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung for the CryoSat-2 data (http://data.meereisportal.de/data/cryosat2/version2.0/), the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service for the GMPE SST data (http://marine.copernicus.eu/), the Norwegian Meteorological Institute for the OSISAF data (http://www.osi-saf.org/?q=content/sea-ice-products), the University of Bremen for AMSR2 data (http://data.meereisportal.de/data/iup/hdf/), and the University of Washington for the PIOMAS data (http://psc.apl.uw.edu/research/projects/arctic-sea-ice-volume-anomaly/data/). The numerical configuration of the ArcIOPS is available at https://github.com/oucliangxi/ArcticModel18km_MITGCM. The simulation data is available upon reasonable request from the authors.