The importance of net longwave radiation and cyclone forcings
Relatively few sea ice energy balance studies have successfully captured the transition season of warming, snowmelt, and melt pond formation. In this paper, we report a surface energy budget for landfast sea ice that captures this important period. The study was conducted in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago from 10 May to 20 June 2010. Over the first 20 days of the study, we found that short periods (1–3 days) of increased net radiation associated with low longwave loss provided most of the energy required to warm the snowpack from winter conditions. An extended period of low longwave loss (5 days) combined with the seasonal increase in incoming shortwave radiation then triggered snowmelt onset. Melt progressed with a rapid reduction in albedo and attendant increases in shortwave energy absorption, resulting in melt pond formation 8 days later. The key role of longwave radiation in initiating melt onset supports past findings, and confirms the importance of clouds and water vapor associated with synoptic weather systems. However, we also observed a period of strong turbulent energy exchange associated with the passage of a cyclone. The cyclone event occurred shortly after melt pond formation, but it delivered enough energy to significantly hasten melt onset had it occurred earlier in the season. Changes in the frequency, duration, and timing of synoptic-scale weather events that deliver clouds and/or strong turbulent heat fluxes may be important in explaining observed changes in sea ice melt onset timing.
Journal of Geophysical Research C: Oceans, 2014, Vol 119, Issue 6, p. 3679-3693