Anthony Strawa, PhD

The overall objective of this project is to simulate reflective material deployment in the Beaufort Gyre and evaluate its regional and global climate impacts. The Beaufort Gyre (BG) is an area in the Arctic Ocean north of Alaska and Canada that is known as a sea ice nursery, allowing young ice to mature into multi-year ice.

The project will be executed by Climformatics with Arctic Ice Project oversight and collaboration with Dr. Smedsrud of U. Bergen and the Bjerkens Centre for Climate Research in Norway.

The AIP treatment is modeled by perturbing  the sea ice albedo in the targeted treatment area (Fig.1) using the latest version of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) fully coupled climate model named CESM 2.0. CESM 2.0 is one of several global climate models (GCM) used by the scientific community to produce estimates that support the United Nations’ IPCC studies. This model was chosen because it represents the Arctic climate better than other GCMs. The model configuration includes atmospheric, land, sea ice and ocean components. This study models the period 2000-2050 with two 10-member ensembles of climate model simulations: reference and BG perturbation cases. These climate simulations are transient with evolving Greenhouse Gas (GHG) forcing from observed (historical) data sets from 2000 to 2015 and future climate scenario Shared Socioeconomic Pathways SSP2-4.5 from 2015-2050.

Our hypothesis is that brightening the sea ice in the BG core will thicken the sea ice and consequently spread basin wide by the BG circulation. We will quantify the amount of sea ice volume increase per year, assess the delay in reaching the state of a summer ice free Arctic, evaluate the efficacy of the albedo enhancement in the BG region and compare it to earlier simulations of Arctic-wide and Fram Strait targeted applications.

NCAR diagnostics packages for the atmospheric and sea ice model components will be used to analyze each ensemble member individually (20 diagnostics runs), as well as, for the differences of the two main cases (BG – CONTROL) (10 diagnostics runs). The diagnostics analysis includes calculation and visualization of monthly, seasonal and annual climatologies of many variables: air temperature, humidity, winds, pressure, clouds, precipitation, and etc. at different vertical atmospheric levels, as well as, water cycle and radiation budget components at the surface and at the top of the atmosphere. An analysis using analytic tools written specifically for this project will be performed focused on the changes in the Arctic radiation budget, atmospheric dynamics and ice cover due to the BG albedo enhancement. The efficacy of the albedo enhancement technology will be estimated by comparing its impacts (ice volume/ice area/ice thickness changes) per square kilometer of treated area compared to the results from our previous simulations: Arctic-wide, and Fram Strait.

The project will result in at least one scientific paper submitted for peer-reviewed publication within 12 months from project start. 

Polar map showing the Beaufort Gyre treatment area. The arrows show typical ocean currents. Note the circular vortex motion in the Gyre.

Polar map showing the Beaufort Gyre treatment area. The arrows show typical ocean currents. Note the circular vortex motion in the Gyre.