Sea ice – ocean feedbacks in the Antarctic shelf seas
Observed changes in Antarctic sea ice are poorly understood, in part due to the complexity of its interactions with the atmosphere and ocean. A highly simplified, coupled sea ice—ocean mixed layer model has been developed to investigate the importance of sea ice–ocean feedbacks on the evolution of sea ice and the ocean mixed layer in two contrasting regions of the Antarctic continental shelf ocean: the Amundsen Sea, which has warm shelf waters; and the Weddell Sea, which has cold and saline shelf waters. Modelling studies where we deny the feedback response to surface air temperature perturbations show the importance of feedbacks on the mixed layer and ice cover in the Weddell Sea to be smaller than the sensitivity to surface atmospheric conditions. In the Amundsen Sea the effect of surface air temperature perturbations on the sea ice are opposed by changes in the entrainment of warm deep waters into the mixed layer. The net impact depends on the relative balance between changes in sea ice growth driven by surface perturbations and basal driven melting. The changes in the entrainment of warm water in the Amundsen Sea were found to have a much larger impact on the ice volume than perturbations in the surface energy budget. This creates a net negative ice albedo feedback in the Amundsen Sea, reversing the sign of this typically positive feedback mechanism.