Ice Models

Ice Models

Processes Simulated by the Community Ice CodE

Ice plays an important role in the climate system due to its high albedo. Ice-covered areas reflect a very high percentage of incoming shortwave radiation. Thus the presence or absence of ice tends to have an inordinately large effect on climate with large feedbacks in coupled systems.

Sea ice forms from the freezing of seawater. Its presence or absence strongly impacts climate, both globally and locally. In addition to the albedo feedback described above, sea ice also acts as a barrier between the liquid ocean and the atmosphere and thus strongly alters the moisture flux, as well as latent and sensible heat fluxes. The formation of sea ice also plays a crucial role in the formation of the cold, saline water that drives deep ocean circulation.

In addition to the heat flux that results in freezing and melting, sea ice models simulate features including sea ice motion, formation of ridges and leads, melt ponds, and aerosol deposition.

Processes Simulated by the Community Ice Sheet Model

Dynamical ice sheet models simulate the mass and movement of ice that forms on land. Land ice has proven more difficult to model than other aspects of the climate system. While ice generally moves slowly, glaciers and ice shelves can react swiftly under some circumstances. Understanding what can trigger these rapid changes is crucial to projections of sea level. If all the ice in Greenland and Antarctica melted, sea level could rise about 70 meters. The resulting influx of fresh water would likely disturb ocean circulation, further changing climate.