Articles | Volume 8, issue 5
Geosci. Model Dev., 8, 1577–1594, 2015

Special issue: Nucleus for European Modelling of the Ocean - NEMO

Geosci. Model Dev., 8, 1577–1594, 2015

Development and technical paper 28 May 2015

Development and technical paper | 28 May 2015

A high-resolution ocean and sea-ice modelling system for the Arctic and North Atlantic oceans

F. Dupont1, S. Higginson3, R. Bourdallé-Badie4, Y. Lu3, F. Roy2, G. C. Smith2, J.-F. Lemieux2, G. Garric4, and F. Davidson5 F. Dupont et al.
  • 1Service météorologique du Canada, Environnement Canada, Dorval, QC, Canada
  • 2Recherche en Prévision Environnementale, Environnement Canada, Dorval, QC, Canada
  • 3Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Dartmouth, NS, Canada
  • 4Mercator Océan, Toulouse, France
  • 5Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, St. John's, NL, Canada

Abstract. As part of the CONCEPTS (Canadian Operational Network of Coupled Environmental PredicTion Systems) initiative, a high-resolution (1/12°) ice–ocean regional model is developed covering the North Atlantic and the Arctic oceans. The long-term objective is to provide Canada with short-term ice–ocean predictions and hazard warnings in ice-infested regions. To evaluate the modelling component (as opposed to the analysis – or data-assimilation – component, which is not covered in this contribution), a series of hindcasts for the period 2003–2009 is carried out, forced at the surface by the Canadian GDPS reforecasts (Smith et al., 2014). These hindcasts test how the model represents upper ocean characteristics and ice cover. Each hindcast implements a new aspect of the modelling or the ice–ocean coupling. Notably, the coupling to the multi-category ice model CICE is tested. The hindcast solutions are then assessed using a verification package under development, including in situ and satellite ice and ocean observations. The conclusions are as follows: (1) the model reproduces reasonably well the time mean, variance and skewness of sea surface height; (2) the model biases in temperature and salinity show that while the mean properties follow expectations, the Pacific Water signature in the Beaufort Sea is weaker than observed; (3) the modelled freshwater content of the Arctic agrees well with observational estimates; (4) the distribution and volume of the sea ice are shown to be improved in the latest hindcast due to modifications to the drag coefficients and to some degree to the ice thickness distribution available in CICE; (5) nonetheless, the model still overestimates the ice drift and ice thickness in the Beaufort Gyre.

Short summary
1/12th degree resolution runs of Arctic--Atlantic were compared for the period 2003-2009. We found good representation of sea surface height and of its statistics; model temperature and salinity in general agreement with in situ measurements, but upper ocean properties in Beaufort Sea are challenging; distribution of concentration and volume of sea ice is improved when slowing down the ice and further improvements require better initial conditions and modifications to mixing.