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Geophysical Monograph Series



  • Arctic Ocean—Congresses
  • Antarctic Ocean—Congresses
  • Climatic changes—Congresses

Index Terms

  • 4207 Oceanography: General: Arctic and Antarctic oceanography
  • 4215 Oceanography: General: Climate and interannual variability



On the effect of ocean circulation on Arctic ice-margin variations

W. D. Hibler III and J. Zhang

A high resolution ice ocean circulation model with 40 km horizontal resolution and 21 vertical levels is used to simulate the seasonal and interannual characteristics of the ice cover and ocean circulation of the Arctic. Greenland, Norwegian and Barents seas over the time interval 1979–1985. The model yields a mean annual heat budget close to balance and a realistic ocean circulation. Results from a hierarchy of numerical simulations using this model are analyzed to help determine the dommant mechanisms responsible for Arctic ice margin variations. The correlation between simulated and observed seasonally averaged interannual variations of the ice edge is good in the Arctic Basin and Barents Sea with about 50% of the observed variance explained by the model. In the Greenland Sea, the model explains about 50% of the observed variance in the summer and fall but poorly predicts the winter and spring ice margin variations. Simulations with a motionless thermodynamic only ice model without interannually varying ocean heat fluxes yield very poor correlations with observed ice margin variations everywhere and reduce the ice extent about 200 km compared to the full ice-ocean model. A simulation without open ocean boundaries, on the other hand, results in an increase of ice extent about 100 km. Except for the Arctic Basin where ice transport effects are found to be dominant, the interannual results portray a complex system with the effects of ice transport and oceanic heat flux often competing so that neither one totally dominates. As a consequence both terms need to be included for realistic simulations of ice margin variations.

Citation: Hibler, W. D., III, and J. Zhang (1994), On the effect of ocean circulation on Arctic ice-margin variations, in The Polar Oceans and Their Role in Shaping the Global Environment, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 85, edited by O. M. Johannessen, R. D. Muench, and J. E. Overland, pp. 383–397, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/GM085p0383.

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