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Monday 25th September 2017

Isaac Newton Institute

United Kingdom

Photo: Simulation of fraction of Arctic sea ice surface covered in melt ponds on day 200 of 2007 using a climate sea ice model. (Credit: Schroeder, Feltham, Flocco)


Observations, theory and numerical modelling strongly indicate a substantial alteration of the Earth’s climate with global average warming in the coming decades. Our understanding of current and future climate is substantially derived from climate models. Climate models solve systems of equations that simulate the circulation and physical evolution of the Earth’s atmosphere, ocean, land surface, and cryosphere. Sea ice, an important component of the cryosphere, provides a partial barrier to exchanges of momentum, heat, and freshwater between the atmosphere and ocean and is a complex composite of ice and brine that exhibits varying structural, thermodynamic and mechanical properties across a range of length and timescales. The last decade’s rapid and substantial reduction of the Arctic sea ice cover has been widely reported and further changes are expected in the coming years. While loss of sea ice will not alter sea level, it does alter the exchanges and feedbacks between the atmosphere and ocean and has a significant impact on the polar regions and global climate through its impact on atmospheric and oceanic circulations.  
This knowledge exchange event was delivered by the TGM as part of the Isaac Newton Institute Research Programme on the Mathematics of Sea Ice Phenomena

It specifically addressed climate model representation of sea ice and also investigated fundamental and applied issues in mathematical modelling of sea ice. In particular, it soughtto identify future priorities for climate sea ice model development.

Aims and Objectives

To identify priorities for future climate sea ice model development, we discussed the following questions:

  • What do climate models need sea ice for?
    A top-down, system level view of what sea ice models should produce from the perspective of a climate modeller.


  • What sea ice physics is missing from models?
    A bottom-up view of what is missing from current sea ice models from the perspective of a sea ice scientist.


  • What modelling approaches can be used to address the complexity of sea ice and the needs of climate models?

This workshop enabled the presentation and discussion of different views and modelling approaches, as well as issues relevant to adequate simulation of sea ice from the perspective of the mathematical modeller. It was of interest and relevance to those working on climate models, specifically for sea ice.

Registration and Venue

Attendance was free. The workshop took place at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Cambridge. Please see the Isaac Newton Institute website for further information about the venue.