Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 508961
Title On the potential for abrupt Arctic winter sea-ice loss
Author(s) Bathiany, S.; Notz, Dirk; Mauritsen, T.; Raedel, G.; Brovkin, V.
Source Journal of Climate 29 (2016)22. - ISSN 0894-8755 - p. 2703 - 2719.
DOI https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0466.1
Department(s) Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management
WIMEK
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2016
Abstract The authors examine the transition from a seasonally ice-covered Arctic to an Arctic Ocean that is sea ice free all year round under increasing atmospheric CO2 levels. It is shown that in comprehensive climate models, such loss of Arctic winter sea ice area is faster than the preceding loss of summer sea ice area for the same rate of warming. In two of the models, several million square kilometers of winter sea ice are lost within only one decade. It is shown that neither surface albedo nor cloud feedbacks can explain the rapid winter ice loss in the climate model MPI-ESM by suppressing both feedbacks in the model. The authors argue that the large sensitivity of winter sea ice area in the models is caused by the asymmetry between melting and freezing: an ice-free summer requires the complete melt of even the thickest sea ice, which is why the perennial ice coverage decreases only gradually as more and more of the thinner ice melts away. In winter, however, sea ice areal coverage remains high as long as sea ice still forms, and then drops to zero wherever the ocean warms sufficiently to no longer form ice during winter. The loss of basinwide Arctic winter sea ice area, however, is still gradual in most models since the threshold mechanism proposed here is reversible and not associated with the existence of multiple steady states. As this occurs in every model analyzed here and is independent of any specific parameterization, it is likely to be relevant in the real world.
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