30 May 2022
30 May 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Rapid Sea Ice Changes in the Future Barents Sea

Ole Rieke1, Marius Årthun1,2, and Jakob Simon Dörr1,2 Ole Rieke et al.
  • 1Geophysical Institute, University of Bergen, Norway
  • 2Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway

Abstract. Winter Arctic sea ice loss is strongest in the Barents Sea. The anthropogenic ice decline is superimposed by pronounced internal variability that represents a large source of uncertainty in future climate projections. A notable manifestation of internal variability are periods of rapid ice loss or growth that greatly exceed the anthropogenic trend. These rapid ice change events are associated with large displacements of the sea ice edge which could potentially have both local and remote impacts on the climate system. In this study we accordingly present the first investigation of the frequency and drivers of these rapid ice change events in the future Barents Sea, using multi-member ensemble simulations from CMIP5 and CMIP6. A majority of rapid sea ice changes are triggered by trends in ocean heat transport or surface heat fluxes. Rapid ice change events are a common feature of the future Barents Sea until the region becomes close to ice free. As their evolution over time is closely tied to the average sea ice conditions, rapid ice changes in the Barents Sea serve as a precursor for future changes in adjacent seas.

Ole Rieke et al.

Status: open (until 25 Jul 2022)

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Ole Rieke et al.

Ole Rieke et al.


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Short summary
The Barents Sea is the area of most intense winter sea ice loss and future projections show a continued decline towards ice-free conditions by the end of this century, but with large interannual to decadal fluctuations. Here we use climate model simulations to look at the occurrence and drivers of rapid ice change events in the Barents Sea that are much stronger than the average ice loss. A better understanding of these events will contribute to improved sea ice predictions in the Barents Sea.