National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2017

Impact of model physics on seasonal forecasts of surface air temperature in the Arctic

Yang, Q., M. Wang, J.E. Overland, W. Wang, and T.W. Collow

Mon. Weather Rev., 145(3), 773–782, doi: 10.1175/MWR-D-16-0272.1 (2017)

The impacts of model physics and initial sea ice thickness on seasonal forecasts of surface energy budget and air temperature in the Arctic during summer were investigated based on Climate Forecast System, version 2 (CFSv2), simulations. The model physics changes include the enabling of a marine stratus cloud scheme and the removal of the artificial upper limit on the bottom heat flux from ocean to sea ice. The impact of initial sea ice thickness was examined by initializing the model with relatively realistic sea ice thickness generated by the Pan-Arctic Ice Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS). Model outputs were compared to that from a control run that did not impose physics changes and used Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) sea ice thickness. After applying the physics modification to either sea ice thickness initialization, the simulated total cloud cover more closely resembled the observed monthly variations of total cloud cover except for the midsummer reduction. Over the Chukchi–Bering Seas, the model physics modification reduced the seasonal forecast bias in surface air temperature by 24%. However, the use of initial PIOMAS sea ice thickness alone worsened the surface air temperature predictions. The experiment with physics modifications and initial PIOMAS sea ice thickness achieves the best surface air temperature improvement over the Chukchi–Bering Seas where the area-weighted forecast bias was reduced by 71% from 1.05 K down to −0.3 K compared with the control run. This study supports other results that surface temperatures and sea ice characteristics are highly sensitive to the Arctic cloud and radiation formulations in models and need priority in model formulation and validation.

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