Implementation and evaluation of open boundary conditions for sea ice in a regional coupled ocean (ROMS) and sea ice (CICE) modeling system

[Published 09 June 2022]

Scientific Publications

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The Los Alamos Sea Ice Model (CICE) is used by several Earth system models where sea ice boundary conditions are not necessary, given their global scope. However, regional and local implementations of sea ice models require boundary conditions describing the time changes of the sea ice and snow being exchanged across the boundaries of the model domain. The physical detail of these boundary conditions regarding, for example, the usage of different sea ice thickness categories or the vertical resolution of thermodynamic properties, must be considered when matching them with the requirements of the sea ice model. Available satellite products do not include all required data. Therefore, the most straightforward way of getting sea ice boundary conditions is from a larger-scale model. The main goal of our study is to describe and evaluate the implementation of time-varying sea ice boundaries in the CICE model using two regional coupled ocean–sea ice models, both covering a large part of the Barents Sea and areas around Svalbard: the Barents-2.5 km​​​​​​​, implemented at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute (MET), and the Svalbard 4 km (S4K) model, implemented at the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI). We use the TOPAZ4 model and a Pan-Arctic 4 km resolution model (A4) to generate the boundary conditions for the sea ice and the ocean. The Barents-2.5 km model is MET’s main forecasting model for ocean state and sea ice in the Barents Sea. The S4K model covers a similar domain but it is used mainly for research purposes. Obtained results show significant improvements in the performance of the Barents-2.5 km model after the implementation of the time-varying boundary conditions. The performance of the S4K model in terms of sea ice and snow thickness is comparable to that of the TOPAZ4 system but with more accurate results regarding the oceanic component because of using ocean boundary conditions from the A4 model. The implementation of time-varying boundary conditions described in this study is similar regardless of the CICE versions used in different models. The main challenge remains the handling of data from larger models before its usage as boundary conditions for regional/local sea ice models, since mismatches between available model products from the former and specific requirements of the latter are expected, implying case-specific approaches and different assumptions. Ideally, model setups should be as similar as possible to allow a smoother transition from larger to smaller domains.

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