High-Latitude Ocean and Sea Ice Surface Fluxes: Challenges for Climate Research

Mark A. Bourassa, Sarah T. Gille, Cecilia Bitz, David Carlson, Ivana Cerovecki, Carol Anne Clayson, Meghan F. Cronin, Will M. Drennan, Chris W. Fairall, Ross N. Hoffman, Gudrun Magnusdottir, Rachel T. Pinker (+5 others)
2013 Bulletin of The American Meteorological Society - (BAMS)  
Polar regions have great sensitivity to climate forcing; however, understanding of the physical processes coupling the atmosphere and ocean in these regions is relatively poor. Improving our eScholarship provides open access, scholarly publishing services to the University of California and delivers a dynamic research platform to scholars worldwide. knowledge of high-latitude surface fluxes will require close collaboration among meteorologists, oceanographers, ice physicists, and
more » ... and climatologists, and between observationalists and modelers, as well as new combinations of in situ measurements and satellite remote sensing. This article describes the deficiencies in our current state of knowledge about air-sea surface fluxes in high latitudes, the sensitivity of various high-latitude processes to changes in surface fluxes, and the scientific requirements for surface fluxes at high latitudes. We inventory the reasons, both logistical and physical, why existing flux products do not meet these requirements. Capturing an annual cycle in fluxes requires that instruments function through long periods of cold polar darkness, often far from support services, in situations subject to icing and extreme wave conditions. Furthermore, frequent cloud cover at high latitudes restricts the availability of surface and atmospheric data from visible and infrared (IR) wavelength satellite sensors. Recommendations are made for improving high-latitude fluxes, including 1) acquiring more in situ observations, 2) developing improved satellite-flux-observing capabilities, 3) making observations and flux products more accessible, and 4) encouraging flux intercomparisons. High latitudes present extreme conditions for the measurement and estimation of air-sea and ice fluxes, limiting understanding of related physical processes and feedbacks that are important elements of the Earth's climate. Fig. 1. Schematic of surface fluxes and related processes for high latitudes. Radiative fluxes are both SW and LW. Surface turbulent fluxes are stress, SHF, and LHF. Ocean surface moisture fluxes are P and E (proportional to LHF). Processes specific to high-latitude regimes can strongly modulate fluxes. These include strong katabatic winds, effects due to ice cover and small-scale open patches of water associated with leads and polynyas, air-sea temperature differences that vary on the scale of eddies and fronts (i.e., on the scale of the oceanic Rossby radius, which can be short at high latitudes), deep and bottom water formation, and enhanced freshwater input associated with blowing snow. 403 march 2013 amErIcaN mETEOrOLOGIcaL SOcIETY |
doi:10.1175/bams-d-11-00244.1 fatcat:bdliwkfz4ba6hi25ppbdkktzh4