Role of Sea-Ice fluxes in Modulating 21st Century Surface Warming in the Southern Ocean


The Southern Ocean has been warming more rapidly below the surface than above in contrast to the rest of the world’s oceans. Deep mixing in the Southern Ocean plays an important role in modulating the rate and degree of atmospheric warming seen in the future. DOE funded researchers have explored the role of sea-ice freshwater and salt fluxes in modulating 21st century surface warming in the Southern Ocean through sensitivity experiments in the Community Climate System Model version 3. The focus is on examining the role of fluxes in causing surface cooling, expanding sea ice, and increasing deep oceanic storage of heat. The results indicate that the changing sea-ice freshwater and salt fluxes are a major component of the 21st century delay in surface warming of the Southern Ocean, delaying warming both locally in the Southern Ocean and globally.


Kirkman, C.H and C.M. Bitz. 2010. “The Effect of the Sea Ice Freshwater Flux on Southern Ocean Temperatures in CCSM3, 2010: Deep Ocean Warming and Delayed Surface Warming,” Journal of Climate, Available on Early Online Release.