Will sea ice thickness initialisation improve Arctic seasonal-to-interannual forecast skill?

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 10:35 AM
Jonathan J Day, Ed Hawkins and Steffen Tietsche, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom
A number of recent studies have suggested that Arctic sea ice thickness is an important predictor of Arctic sea ice extent. However, coupled forecast systems do not currently use sea ice thickness observations in their initialization and are therefore missing a potentially important source of additional skill. A set of ensemble potential predictability experiments, with a global climate model, initialized with and without knowledge of the sea ice thickness initial state, have been run to investigate this. These experiments show that accurate knowledge of the sea ice thickness field is crucially important for sea ice concentration and extent forecasts up to eight months ahead. Perturbing sea ice thickness also has a significant impact on the forecast error in the 2m temperature and surface pressure fields a few months ahead. These results show that advancing capabilities to observe and assimilate sea ice thickness into coupled forecast systems could significantly increase skill.