15 Sep 2023
 | 15 Sep 2023

Bounded and categorized: targeting data assimilation for sea ice fractional coverage and non-negative quantities in a single column multi-category sea ice model

Molly Wieringa, Christopher Riedel, Jeffrey Anderson, and Cecilia Bitz

Abstract. A rigorous exploration of the sea ice data assimilation (DA) problem using a framework specifically developed for rapid, interpretable hypothesis testing is presented. In many applications, DA is implemented to constrain a modeled estimate of a state with observations. The sea ice DA application is complicated by the wide range of spatio-temporal scales over which key sea ice variables evolve, a variety of physical bounds on those variables, and the particular construction of modern complex sea ice models. By coupling a single-column sea ice model (Icepack) to the Data Assimilation Research Testbed (DART), the grid-cell response of a complex sea ice model is explored with a range of ensemble Kalman DA methods designed to address the aforementioned complications. The impact on the modeled ice-thickness distribution and the bounded nature of both state and prognostic variables in the sea ice model are of particular interest, as these problems are under-examined. Explicitly respecting boundedness has little effect in the winter months, but correctly accounts for the bounded nature of the observations, particularly in the summer months when prescribed SIC error is large. Assimilating observations representing each of the individual modeled sea ice thickness categories consistently improves the analyses across multiple diagnostic variables and sea ice mean states. These results elucidate many of the positive and negative results of previous sea ice data assimilation studies, highlight the many counter-intuitive aspects of this particular data assimilation application, and motivate better future sea ice analysis products.

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Molly Wieringa, Christopher Riedel, Jeffrey Anderson, and Cecilia Bitz

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2016', Anonymous Referee #1, 25 Oct 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Molly Wieringa, 01 May 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2016', Anonymous Referee #2, 25 Mar 2024
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Molly Wieringa, 01 May 2024
Molly Wieringa, Christopher Riedel, Jeffrey Anderson, and Cecilia Bitz

Model code and software

CICE-SCM-DART Molly Wieringa

Molly Wieringa, Christopher Riedel, Jeffrey Anderson, and Cecilia Bitz


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Short summary
Statistically combining models and observations with data assimilation (DA) can improve sea ice forecasts but must address several challenges, including irregularity in ice thickness and coverage over the ocean. Using a sea ice column model, we show that novel, bounds-aware DA methods outperform traditional methods for sea ice. Additionally, thickness observations at sub-grid scales improve modeled ice estimates of both thick and thin ice, a finding relevant for realistic forecasting efforts.