Articles | Volume 19, issue 1
Research article
09 Feb 2012
Research article |  | 09 Feb 2012

Albedo parametrization and reversibility of sea ice decay

M. Müller-Stoffels and R. Wackerbauer

Abstract. The Arctic's sea ice cover has been receding rapidly in recent years, and global climate models typically predict a further decline over the next century. It is an open question whether a possible loss of Arctic sea ice is reversible. We study the stability of Arctic model sea ice in a conceptual, two-dimensional energy-based regular network model of the ice-ocean layer that considers ARM's longwave radiative budget data and SHEBA albedo measurements. Seasonal ice cover, perennial ice and perennial open water are asymptotic states accessible by the model. We show that the shape of albedo parameterization near the melting temperature differentiates between reversible continuous sea ice decrease under atmospheric forcing and hysteresis behavior. Fixed points induced solely by the surface energy budget are essential for understanding the interaction of surface energy with the radiative forcing and the underlying body of ice/water, particularly close to a bifurcation point. Future studies will explore ice edge stability and reversibility in this lattice model, generalized to a latitudinal transect with spatiotemporal lateral atmospheric heat transfer and high spatial resolution.