Should Sea-Ice Modeling Tools Designed for Climate Research Be Used for Short-Term Forecasting?

E Hunke and R Allard and P Blain and E Blockley and D Feltham and T Fichefet and G Garric and R Grumbine and JF Lemieux and T Rasmussen and M Ribergaard and A Roberts and A Schweiger and S Tietsche and B Tremblay and M Vancoppenolle and JL Zhang, CURRENT CLIMATE CHANGE REPORTS, 6, 121-136 (2020).

DOI: 10.1007/s40641-020-00162-y

In theory, the same sea-ice models could be used for both research and operations, but in practice, differences in scientific and software requirements and computational and human resources complicate the matter. Although sea-ice modeling tools developed for climate studies and other research applications produce output of interest to operational forecast users, such as ice motion, convergence, and internal ice pressure, the relevant spatial and temporal scales may not be sufficiently resolved. For instance, sea-ice research codes are typically run with horizontal resolution of more than 3 km, while mariners need information on scales less than 300 m. Certain sea-ice processes and coupled feedbacks that are critical to simulating the Earth system may not be relevant on these scales; and therefore, the most important model upgrades for improving sea-ice predictions might be made in the atmosphere and ocean components of coupled models or in their coupling mechanisms, rather than in the sea-ice model itself. This paper discusses some of the challenges in applying sea-ice modeling tools developed for research purposes for operational forecasting on short time scales, and highlights promising new directions in sea-ice modeling.

Return to Publications page