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Volume 11, issue 4 | Copyright
Geosci. Model Dev., 11, 1257-1292, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Model evaluation paper 10 Apr 2018

Model evaluation paper | 10 Apr 2018

Intercomparison of Antarctic ice-shelf, ocean, and sea-ice interactions simulated by MetROMS-iceshelf and FESOM 1.4

Kaitlin A. Naughten1,2,3, Katrin J. Meissner1,2, Benjamin K. Galton-Fenzi4,3, Matthew H. England1,2, Ralph Timmermann5, Hartmut H. Hellmer5, Tore Hattermann6,5, and Jens B. Debernard7 Kaitlin A. Naughten et al.
  • 1Climate Change Research Centre, Level 4 Mathews Building, UNSW Sydney, Sydney NSW 2052, Australia
  • 2ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, Australia
  • 3Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, Private Bag 80, Hobart TAS 7001, Australia
  • 4Australian Antarctic Division, 203 Channel Highway, Kingston TAS 7050, Australia
  • 5Alfred Wegener Institut, Postfach 12 01 61, 27515 Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 6Akvaplan-niva, P.O. Box 6606, Langnes, 9296 Tromsø, Norway
  • 7Norwegian Meteorological Institute, P.O. Box 43, Blindern, 0313 Oslo, Norway

Abstract. An increasing number of Southern Ocean models now include Antarctic ice-shelf cavities, and simulate thermodynamics at the ice-shelf/ocean interface. This adds another level of complexity to Southern Ocean simulations, as ice shelves interact directly with the ocean and indirectly with sea ice. Here, we present the first model intercomparison and evaluation of present-day ocean/sea-ice/ice-shelf interactions, as simulated by two models: a circumpolar Antarctic configuration of MetROMS (ROMS: Regional Ocean Modelling System coupled to CICE: Community Ice CodE) and the global model FESOM (Finite Element Sea-ice Ocean Model), where the latter is run at two different levels of horizontal resolution. From a circumpolar Antarctic perspective, we compare and evaluate simulated ice-shelf basal melting and sub-ice-shelf circulation, as well as sea-ice properties and Southern Ocean water mass characteristics as they influence the sub-ice-shelf processes. Despite their differing numerical methods, the two models produce broadly similar results and share similar biases in many cases. Both models reproduce many key features of observations but struggle to reproduce others, such as the high melt rates observed in the small warm-cavity ice shelves of the Amundsen and Bellingshausen seas. Several differences in model design show a particular influence on the simulations. For example, FESOM's greater topographic smoothing can alter the geometry of some ice-shelf cavities enough to affect their melt rates; this improves at higher resolution, since less smoothing is required. In the interior Southern Ocean, the vertical coordinate system affects the degree of water mass erosion due to spurious diapycnal mixing, with MetROMS' terrain-following coordinate leading to more erosion than FESOM's z coordinate. Finally, increased horizontal resolution in FESOM leads to higher basal melt rates for small ice shelves, through a combination of stronger circulation and small-scale intrusions of warm water from offshore.

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Short summary
MetROMS and FESOM are two ocean/sea-ice models which resolve Antarctic ice-shelf cavities and consider thermodynamics at the ice-shelf base. We simulate the period 1992–2016 with both models, and with two options for resolution in FESOM, and compare output from the three simulations. Ice-shelf melt rates, sub-ice-shelf circulation, continental shelf water masses, and sea-ice processes are compared and evaluated against available observations.
MetROMS and FESOM are two ocean/sea-ice models which resolve Antarctic ice-shelf cavities and...