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The effects of resolving the Canadian Arctic Archipelago in a finite element sea ice model
Lietaer, O.; Fichefet, T.; Legat, V. (2008). The effects of resolving the Canadian Arctic Archipelago in a finite element sea ice model. Ocean Modelling 24(3-4): 140-152.
In: Ocean Modelling. Elsevier: Oxford. ISSN 1463-5003, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 231414 [ OMA ]

Author keywords
    sea ice model; unstructured mesh; finite element method; Canadian Arctic

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    Though narrow straits may have a strong influence on the large-scale sea ice mass balance, they are often crudely represented in coarse resolution sea ice models. Unstructured meshes, with their natural ability to fit boundaries and locally increase the mesh resolution, propose an alternative framework to capture the complex oceanic areas formed by coasts and islands. In this paper, we develop a finite element sea ice model to investigate the sensitivity of the Arctic sea ice cover features to the resolution of the narrow straits constituting the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. The model is a two-level dynamic-thermodynamic sea ice model, including a viscous-plastic rheology. It is run over 1979-2005, forced by daily NCEP/NCAR reanalysis data. Confronting qualitatively numerical experiments with observations shows a good agreement with satellite and buoys measurements. Due to its simple representation of the oceanic interactions, the model overestimates the sea ice extent during winter in the southernmost parts of the Arctic, while the Baffin Bay and Kara Sea remain ice-covered during summer. In order to isolate the benefits from resolving the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, a numerical experiment is performed where we artificially close the archipelago. Focusing Oil the large-scale sea ice thickness pattern, no significant change is found in our model, except in the close Surroundings of the archipelago. However, the local and shortterm influences of the ice exchanges are nonnegligible. in particular, we show that the ice volume associated to the Canadian Arctic Archipelago represents 10% of the Northern Hemisphere sea ice volume and that the annual mean ice export towards Baffin Bay amounts to 125 km(3) yr(-1), which may play an important role on the convective overturning in the Labrador Sea.

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