Climate Dynamics

, Volume 26, Issue 2–3, pp 229–245 | Cite as

Twentieth century simulation of the southern hemisphere climate in coupled models. Part II: sea ice conditions and variability



We examine the representation of the mean state and interannual variability of Antarctic sea ice in six simulations of the twentieth century from coupled models participating in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change fourth assessment report. The simulations exhibit a largely seasonal southern hemisphere ice cover, as observed. There is a considerable scatter in the monthly simulated climatological ice extent among different models, but no consistent bias when compared to observations. The scatter in maximum winter ice extent among different models is correlated to the strength of the climatological zonal winds suggesting that wind forced ice transport is responsible for much of this scatter. Observations show that the leading mode of southern hemisphere ice variability exhibits a dipole structure with anomalies of one sign in the Atlantic sector associated with anomalies of the opposite sign in the Pacific sector. The observed ice anomalies also exhibit eastward propagation with the Antarctic circumpolar current, as part of the documented Antarctic circumpolar wave phenomenon. Many of the models do simulate dipole-like behavior in sea ice anomalies as the leading mode of ice variability, but there is a large discrepancy in the eastward propagation of these anomalies among the different models. Consistent with observations, the simulated Antarctic dipole-like variations in the ice cover are led by sea-level pressure anomalies in the Amundsen/ Bellingshausen Sea. These are associated, to different degrees in different models, with both the southern annular mode and the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). There are indications that the magnitude of the influence of ENSO on the southern hemisphere ice cover is related to the strength of ENSO events simulated by the different models.



This research was funded by NSF and DOE as a Climate Model Evaluation Project (CMEP) grant,# NSF ATM 0444682, under the U.S. CLIVAR Program ( We acknowledge the international modeling groups for providing their data for analysis, the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) for collecting and archiving the model data, the JSC/CLIVAR Working Group on Coupled Modelling (WGCM) and their Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) and Climate Simulation Panel for organizing the model data analysis activity, and the IPCC WG1 TSU for technical support. The IPCC Data Archive at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science, U.S. Department of Energy. This research uses data provided by the Community Climate System Model project (, supported by the Directorate for Geosciences of the National Science Foundation and the Office of Biological and Environmental Research of the U.S. Department of Energy. We would like to thank Dr. Peter Gent for comments on a draft of this manuscript. We also extend our thanks to Dr. W.M. Connolley and an anonymous reviewer who provided very useful comments that led to considerable improvements in this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Center for Atmospheric ResearchBoulderUSA
  2. 2.UCLA Department of GeographyLos AngelesUSA

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