, Volume 55, Issue 3-4, pp 370-387
Date: 29 Jul 2005

Numerical simulation of ice-ocean variability in the Barents Sea region

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Abstract

A dynamic–thermodynamic sea ice model has been coupled to a three-dimensional ocean general circulation model for the purpose of conducting ocean climate dynamical downscaling experiments for the Barents Sea region. To assess model performance and suitability for such an application, the coupled model has been used to conduct a hindcast for the period 1990–2002. A comparison with available observations shows that the model successfully tracks seasonal and inter-annual variability in the ocean temperature field and that the simulated horizontal and vertical distribution of temperature are in good agreement with observations. The model results follow the seasonal and inter-annual variability in sea ice cover in the region, with the exception that the model results show too much ice melting in the northern Barents Sea during summer. The spatial distribution of the winter simulated sea ice cover is in close agreement with observations. Modelled temperatures and ice concentrations in the central Barents Sea are biased too high and too low, respectively. The probable cause is too high inflow of Atlantic Water into the Barents. The seasonal and inter-annual fluctuations in temperature and sea ice cover in the central Barents are, however, in excellent agreement with observations. Salt release during the freezing process in the numerical simulation exhibits considerable inter-annual variability and tends to vary in an opposite manner to the net inflow volume flux at the western entrance of the Barents Sea. Overall, the model produces realistic ice-ocean seasonal and inter-annual variability and should prove to be a useful tool for dynamical downscaling applications.

Responsible Editor: Phil Dyke