Articles | Volume 14, issue 17
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 9403–9450, 2014

Special issue: Ice-Atmosphere-Ocean interactions in the Arctic Ocean during...

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 9403–9450, 2014

Review article 10 Sep 2014

Review article | 10 Sep 2014

Advances in understanding and parameterization of small-scale physical processes in the marine Arctic climate system: a review

T. Vihma1,2, R. Pirazzini1, I. Fer3, I. A. Renfrew4, J. Sedlar5,6, M. Tjernström5,6, C. Lüpkes7, T. Nygård1, D. Notz8, J. Weiss9, D. Marsan10, B. Cheng1, G. Birnbaum7, S. Gerland11, D. Chechin12, and J. C. Gascard13 T. Vihma et al.
  • 1Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
  • 2The University Centre in Svalbard, Longyearbyen, Norway
  • 3University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
  • 4University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
  • 5Bert Bolin Center for Climate Research, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 6Department of Meteorology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 7Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 8Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany
  • 9LGGE, Université de Grenoble, CNRS, Grenoble, France
  • 10ISTerre, Université de Savoie, CNRS, Le Bourget-du-Lac, France
  • 11Norwegian Polar Institute, Tromsø, Norway
  • 12A. M. Obukhov Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
  • 13Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France

Abstract. The Arctic climate system includes numerous highly interactive small-scale physical processes in the atmosphere, sea ice, and ocean. During and since the International Polar Year 2007–2009, significant advances have been made in understanding these processes. Here, these recent advances are reviewed, synthesized, and discussed. In atmospheric physics, the primary advances have been in cloud physics, radiative transfer, mesoscale cyclones, coastal, and fjordic processes as well as in boundary layer processes and surface fluxes. In sea ice and its snow cover, advances have been made in understanding of the surface albedo and its relationships with snow properties, the internal structure of sea ice, the heat and salt transfer in ice, the formation of superimposed ice and snow ice, and the small-scale dynamics of sea ice. For the ocean, significant advances have been related to exchange processes at the ice–ocean interface, diapycnal mixing, double-diffusive convection, tidal currents and diurnal resonance. Despite this recent progress, some of these small-scale physical processes are still not sufficiently understood: these include wave–turbulence interactions in the atmosphere and ocean, the exchange of heat and salt at the ice–ocean interface, and the mechanical weakening of sea ice. Many other processes are reasonably well understood as stand-alone processes but the challenge is to understand their interactions with and impacts and feedbacks on other processes. Uncertainty in the parameterization of small-scale processes continues to be among the greatest challenges facing climate modelling, particularly in high latitudes. Further improvements in parameterization require new year-round field campaigns on the Arctic sea ice, closely combined with satellite remote sensing studies and numerical model experiments.

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