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Geoscientific Model Development An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 8, issue 5
Geosci. Model Dev., 8, 1547-1562, 2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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

Geosci. Model Dev., 8, 1547-1562, 2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Model description paper 27 May 2015

Model description paper | 27 May 2015

NEMO–ICB (v1.0): interactive icebergs in the NEMO ocean model globally configured at eddy-permitting resolution

R. Marsh1, V. O. Ivchenko1, N. Skliris1, S. Alderson2, G. R. Bigg3, G. Madec2,4, A. T. Blaker2, Y. Aksenov2, B. Sinha2, A. C. Coward2, J. Le Sommer5, N. Merino5, and V. B. Zalesny6 R. Marsh et al.
  • 1University of Southampton, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, UK
  • 2National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, European Way, Southampton SO14 3ZH, UK
  • 3Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
  • 5LGGE, UMR5183, CNRS-UJF, Grenoble, France
  • 6Institute of Numerical Mathematics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Gubkin St. 8, Moscow, 119333, Russia

Abstract. An established iceberg module, ICB, is used interactively with the Nucleus for European Modelling of the Ocean (NEMO) ocean model in a new implementation, NEMO–ICB (v1.0). A 30-year hindcast (1976–2005) simulation with an eddy-permitting (0.25°) global configuration of NEMO–ICB is undertaken to evaluate the influence of icebergs on sea ice, hydrography, mixed layer depths (MLDs), and ocean currents, through comparison with a control simulation in which the equivalent iceberg mass flux is applied as coastal runoff, a common forcing in ocean models. In the Southern Hemisphere (SH), drift and melting of icebergs are in balance after around 5 years, whereas the equilibration timescale for the Northern Hemisphere (NH) is 15–20 years. Iceberg drift patterns, and Southern Ocean iceberg mass, compare favourably with available observations. Freshwater forcing due to iceberg melting is most pronounced very locally, in the coastal zone around much of Antarctica, where it often exceeds in magnitude and opposes the negative freshwater fluxes associated with sea ice freezing. However, at most locations in the polar Southern Ocean, the annual-mean freshwater flux due to icebergs, if present, is typically an order of magnitude smaller than the contribution of sea ice melting and precipitation. A notable exception is the southwest Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean, where iceberg melting reaches around 50% of net precipitation over a large area. Including icebergs in place of coastal runoff, sea ice concentration and thickness are notably decreased at most locations around Antarctica, by up to ~ 20% in the eastern Weddell Sea, with more limited increases, of up to ~ 10% in the Bellingshausen Sea. Antarctic sea ice mass decreases by 2.9%, overall. As a consequence of changes in net freshwater forcing and sea ice, salinity and temperature distributions are also substantially altered. Surface salinity increases by ~ 0.1 psu around much of Antarctica, due to suppressed coastal runoff, with extensive freshening at depth, extending to the greatest depths in the polar Southern Ocean where discernible effects on both salinity and temperature reach 2500 m in the Weddell Sea by the last pentad of the simulation. Substantial physical and dynamical responses to icebergs, throughout the global ocean, are explained by rapid propagation of density anomalies from high-to-low latitudes. Complementary to the baseline model used here, three prototype modifications to NEMO–ICB are also introduced and discussed.

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Short summary
Calved icebergs account for around 50% of total freshwater input to the ocean from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. As they melt, icebergs interact with the ocean. We have developed and tested interactive icebergs in a state-of-the-art global ocean model, showing how sea ice, temperatures, and currents are disturbed by iceberg melting. With this new model capability, we are better prepared to predict how future increases in iceberg numbers might influence the oceans and climate.
Calved icebergs account for around 50% of total freshwater input to the ocean from the Greenland...