As a first step in investigating the effects of sea ice changes on the climate sensitivity to doubled atmospheric CO2, the authors use a standard simple sea ice model while varying the sea ice distributions and thicknesses in the control run. Thinner ice amplifies the atmospheric temperature sensitivity in these experiments by about 15% (to a warming of 4.8 degrees C), because it is easier for the thinner ice to be removed as the climate warms. Thus, its impact on sensitivity is similar to that of greater sea ice extent in the control run, which provides more opportunity for sea ice reduction. An experiment with sea ice not allowed to change between the control and doubled CO2 simulations illustrates that the total effect of sea ice on surface air temperature changes, including cloud cover and water vapor feedbacks that arise in response to sea ice variations, amounts to 37% of the temperature sensitivity to the CO2 doubling, accounting for 1.56 degrees C of the 4.17 degrees C global warming. This is about four times larger than the sea ice impact when no feedbacks are allowed. The different experiments produce a range of results for southern high latitudes with the hydrologic budget over Antarctica implying sea level increases of varying magnitude or no change. These results highlight the importance of properly constraining the sea ice response to climate perturbations, necessitating the use of more realistic sea ice and ocean models.
Qp483Times Cited:88Cited References Count:32