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Impact of declining Arctic ice cover on precipitation in western North America

PI: Jacob Sewall
Institution: University of California, Santa Cruz
Abstract:
Previous modeling work that I have completed with NCAR's CSM1 and CCSM3 suggests that as Arctic ice cover is reduced, precipitation patterns over western North America will be altered with storms preferentially tracking further north. This results in an annual precipitation deficit over the western United States and a precipitation increase over western Canada and Alaska. While the initial simulations completed were fixed ice and ocean sensitivity experiments, analysis of the fully coupled CCSM3 indicates that the precipitation shift and a strong link to Arctic ice cover are both reproduced in the coupled system. As a final step in validating the robustness of this prediction, I intend to analyze all 1%/year CO2 increase runs that have been completed for the fourth IPCC assessment. I will be looking to see if precipitation patterns over western North America change as Arctic ice cover declines in response to warming climate. The model data I will require are: sea ice area, total precipitation, zonal and meridional wind, and geopotential height at 500mb.
Publications:
  • Sewall, J.O., 2005: Precipitation Shifts over Western North America as a Result of Declining Arctic Sea Ice Cover: The Coupled System Response. Earth Interactions, 9, 10.1175/EI171.1. Abstract. Full Article. Edit.

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