Journal article Open Access

Bright Prospects for Arctic Sea Ice Prediction on Subseasonal Time Scales

Zampieri, Lorenzo; Goessling, Helge F.; Jung, Thomas

The need for reliable forecasts for the sea ice evolution from weeks to months in advance has substantially grown in the last decade. Sea ice forecasts are of critical importance to manage the opportunities and risks that come with increasing socioeconomic activities in the rapidly changing Arctic, which, despite the reduction of the sea ice cover, remains an extreme environment. The position of the sea ice edge is a key parameter for potential forecast users, such as Arctic mariners. However, little is known about the ability of current operational subseasonal forecast systems to predict the evolution of the ice edge. Therefore, we assess for the first time the skill of state‐of‐the‐art forecast systems, using a new verification metric that quantifies the accuracy of the ice edge position in a meaningful way. Our results demonstrate that subseasonal sea ice predictions are in an early stage, although skillful predictions 1.5 months ahead are already possible. We argue that relatively modest investments into reducing initial state and model errors will lead to major returns in predictive skill.

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