Climate Dynamics

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 59–76 | Cite as

Analysis of the projected regional sea-ice changes in the Southern Ocean during the twenty-first century

  • W. LefebvreEmail author
  • H. Goosse


Using the set of simulations performed with atmosphere-ocean general circulation models (AOGCMs) for the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR4), the projected regional distribution of sea ice for the twenty-first century has been investigated. Averaged over all those model simulations, the current climate is reasonably well reproduced. However, this averaging procedure hides the errors from individual models. Over the twentieth century, the multimodel average simulates a larger sea-ice concentration decrease around the Antarctic Peninsula compared to other regions, which is in qualitative agreement with observations. This is likely related to the positive trend in the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) index over the twentieth century, in both observations and in the multimodel average. Despite the simulated positive future trend in SAM, such a regional feature around the Antarctic Peninsula is absent in the projected sea-ice change for the end of the twenty-first century. The maximum decrease is indeed located over the central Weddell Sea and the Amundsen–Bellingshausen Seas. In most models, changes in the oceanic currents could play a role in the regional distribution of the sea ice, especially in the Ross Sea, where stronger southward currents could be responsible for a smaller sea-ice decrease during the twenty-first century. Finally, changes in the mixed layer depth can be found in some models, inducing locally strong changes in the sea-ice concentration.


Climate change Sea ice Southern ocean Mechanisms Regional patterns 



This study is supported by the Federal Science Office (Belgium). H. Goosse is Research Associate with the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research. We acknowledge the international modelling 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, US Department of Energy. This work was conducted within the European project ENSEMBLES (ENSEMBLE-based Predictions of Climate Changes and their Impacts). The authors also want to thank X. Fettweis, A. de Montéty and J. Adam for their help with this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut d’Astronomie et de Géophysique Georges LemaîtreUniversité Catholique de LouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium

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