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Journal Article

The impact of sub-grid scale sea-ice inhomogeneities on the performance of the atmospheric general circulation model ECHAM3

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Groetzner, A., Sausen, R., & Claussen, M. (1996). The impact of sub-grid scale sea-ice inhomogeneities on the performance of the atmospheric general circulation model ECHAM3. Climate Dynamics, 12(7), 477-496. doi:10.1007/s003820050122.

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Leads and polynyas have a great impact on the energy budget of the polar ocean and atmosphere. Since atmospheric general circulation models are not able to resolve the spatial scales of these inhomogeneities, it is necessary to include the effect of fractional sub-grid scale sea-ice inhomogeneities on climate by a suitable parametrization. In order to do this we have divided each model grid-cell into an ice-covered and an ice-free part. Nevertheless, a numerical model requires effective transports representative for the whole grid-box. A simple procedure would be to use grid averages of the surface parameters for the calculation of the surface fluxes. However, as the surface fluxes are non-linearly dependent on the surface properties, the fluxes over ice and open water should be calculated separately according to the individual surface-layer structure of each surface type. Then these local fluxes should be averaged to obtain representative fluxes. Sensitivity experiments with the Hamburg atmospheric general circulation model ECHAM3 clearly show that a sub-grid scale distribution of sea ice is a dominant factor controlling the exchange processes between ocean and atmosphere in the Arctic. The heat and water vapour transports are strongly enhanced leading to a significant warming and moistening of the polar troposphere. This affects the atmospheric circulation in high- and mid-latitudes; e.g. the stationary lows are modified and the transient cyclonic activity over the subpolar oceans is reduced. A pronounced impact of sub-grid scale sea-ice distribution on the model climate can only be obtained when the non-linear behaviour of the surface exchange processes is considered by a proper, physically based, averaging of the surface fluxes. A simple linear averaging of surface parameters is not sufficient.