Twenty first century changes in Antarctic and Southern Ocean surface climate in CMIP6

Two decades into the 21st century there is growing evidence for global impacts of Antarctic and Southern Ocean climate change. Reliable estimates of how the Antarctic climate system would behave under a range of scenarios of future external climate forcing are thus a high priority. Output from new model simulations coordinated as part of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) provides an opportunity for a comprehensive analysis of the latest generation of state‐of‐the‐art climate models following a wider range of experiment types and scenarios than previous CMIP phases. Here the main broad‐scale 21st century Antarctic projections provided by the CMIP6 models are shown across four forcing scenarios: SSP1‐2.6, SSP2‐4.5, SSP3‐7.0 and SSP5‐8.5. End‐of‐century Antarctic surface‐air temperature change across these scenarios (relative to 1995–2014) is 1.3, 2.5, 3.7 and 4.8°C. The corresponding proportional precipitation rate changes are 8, 16, 24 and 31%. In addition to these end‐of‐century changes, an assessment of scenario dependence of pathways of absolute and global‐relative 21st century projections is conducted. Potential differences in regional response are of particular relevance to coastal Antarctica, where, for example, ecosystems and ice shelves are highly sensitive to the timing of crossing of key thresholds in both atmospheric and oceanic conditions. Overall, it is found that the projected changes over coastal Antarctica do not scale linearly with global forcing. We identify two factors that appear to contribute: (a) a stronger global‐relative Southern Ocean warming in stabilisation (SSP2‐4.5) and aggressive mitigation (SSP1‐2.6) scenarios as the Southern Ocean continues to warm and (b) projected recovery of Southern Hemisphere stratospheric ozone and its effect on the mid‐latitude westerlies. The major implication is that over coastal Antarctica, the surface warming by 2100 is stronger relative to the global mean surface warming for the low forcing compared to high forcing future scenarios.


Publication status:
Published Online
Authors: Bracegirdle, Thomas J. ORCIDORCID record for Thomas J. Bracegirdle, Krinner, Gerhard, Tonelli, Marcos, Haumann, F. Alexander, Naughten, Kaitlin A. ORCIDORCID record for Kaitlin A. Naughten, Rackow, Thomas, Roach, Lettie A., Wainer, Ilana

On this site: Kaitlin Naughten, Thomas Bracegirdle
28 May, 2020
Atmospheric Science Letters
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