Arctic air masses have direct impacts on the weather and climatic extremes of midlatitude areas such as central North America. Arctic physical processes pose special and very important problems for global atmospheric models used for climate simulation and numerical weather prediction. At present, the observational database is inadequate to support research aimed at overcoming these problems. Three interdependent Arctic field programs now being planned will help to remedy this situation: SHEBA, which will operate an ice camp in the Arctic for a year; ARM, which will supply instruments for use at the SHEBA ice camp and which will also conduct longer-term measurements near Barrow, Alaska; and FIRE, which will conduct one or more aircraft campaigns, in conjunction with remote-sensing investigations focused on the SHEBA ice camp. This paper provides an introductory overview of the physics of the Arctic from the perspective of large-scale modelers, outlines some of the modeling problems that arise in attempting to simulate these processes, and explains how the data to be provided by the three field programs can be used to test and improve large-scale models.
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