BlueArc: Impact of ‘Blue Arctic’ on Climate at High Latitudes

Arctic sea ice impact on climate


The overall objective of this project is to quantify the impact of the ‘Blue Arctic’ on the climate and climate variability at high latitudes.  Specific objectives are:

  • Validating the new version of Bergen Climate Model (BCM2) ensemble simulations for key climate parameters focusing on how the sea ice affect atmospheric and oceanic circulation
  • Performing ensemble sensitivity experiments with BCM2 and the atmospheric component of BCM2, specifying no summer sea ice for 3 months in order to assess the high latitude climate response to a summer ‘Blue Arctic Ocean’
  • Comparing the simulation for the ‘Blue Arctic Ocean’ high latitude climate with present climate situation in order to assess the future changes in the atmospheric and oceanic circulation

Project Summary


The global warming is enhanced in the Arctic where surface air temperature has increased twice as much as the global average in recent decades, also called Arctic amplification. Arctic warming implies melting of sea ice, but its dynamic-thermodynamic response is neither straightforward


or necessarily linear, nor is the response of the atmosphere to sea ice

reductions. Satellite observations (1979 to present) show that the Arctic


sea ice cover has declined over the past three decades, with a record-low

summer ice extent in 2007. Furthermore, the projections from the IPCC

AR4 models show that the summer Arctic sea ice could disappear by the

end of 21st century. Recent studies suggest that the summer Arctic Ocean

can be ice-free faster than the projections of the coupled climate models.

This will have severe consequences for climate, environment and human

activities in high latitudes. Although previous studies show that the variability

of atmospheric circulation plays a dominant role in sea ice variability,

some observation-based studies also suggest that Arctic sea ice change

will have impact on the atmosphere circulation. Numerous simulations

(atmosphere-only models, not coupled climate models) have been performed

to investigate the potential impact of sea ice on the atmosphere where sea

ice is used as a fixed boundary. The objective of this project is to explore the

impact of a summer ice-free Arctic Ocean on the high-latitude climate. The

project will consist of comprehensive data analysis and use of the Bergen

Coupled Climate Model and the atmosphere-only model. For the coupled

model simulation, a special technique, the so-called partial coupling will be

used. The project will compare a Blue Arctic Ocean high latitude climate

scenario with the present climate situation in order to quantify and assess the

future changes. Improved knowledge about climate change at high latitudes

is essential for planning and policy making.



















Project Details
Funding Agency: 
Research Council of Norway
NERSC Principal Investigator: 
Yongqi Gao
Coordinating Institute: 
Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center
Project Status: