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CliC News

Here's what has been happening lately in CliC. Let us know if you have things to share.

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Position Available: Editor for FrostBytes - short videos about cool research

FrostBytes logoAs many of you know, CliC has teamed up with the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists to share interesting information about the Cryosphere through FrostBytes – ‘Soundbytes of Cool Research’. These 30-60 second audio or video recordings are designed to help researchers easily share their latest findings to a broad audience. All the FrostBytes are featured on the CliC iTunes channel.

We are looking a volunteer to help take on the editing and coordination of our FrostBytes. Each FrostBytes takes less than an hour to edit, sometimes much less, and we generally produce 4-5 a month… While the position is not paid, we have been able to offer travel funding to a CliC-related meeting as our way of saying thank you for your efforts. Speaking of thank you’s… We thank the lovely Lorna Little, our past editor, for her great service and with her will on her new endeavours. She has graciously agreed to help train the new editor and is available to ask questions if you are interested in learning more about the position.

If you had fun making your own FrostByte or enjoy working with multimedia and interacting with people while learning more about science, please get in touch with Gwen at the CliC office. Ideally, we would like this role filled before August.

Nature review article: Researchers highlight potential carbon emissions from permafrost thaw

-Contributed by Ted Schuur and Christina Schaedel – The Permafrost Carbon Network is a CliC co-sponsored activity

permafrost carbon networkAs the climate continues to warm, researchers are working to understand how human-driven climate change will affect the release of greenhouse gases from arctic permafrost. Additional carbon emissions from remote places like the Arctic could significantly accelerate the pace of climate change.   

An estimated 1330-1580 billion tons of organic carbon are stored in perennially-frozen (permafrost) soils of Arctic and subarctic regions, with the potential for even higher quantities stored deep in the frozen soil in places that have not yet been adequately quantified. The carbon is made up of plant and animal remnants stored in soil for hundreds to thousands of years. Thawing of frozen soil and subsequent decomposition of organic matter by microbes cause the release of carbon dioxide and methane greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Researchers from the Permafrost Carbon Network have worked to synthesize studies on this topic and published the results in a Nature review article in April 2015. According to the authors, the big question is how much, how fast and in what form will this carbon come out. These are the key factors that determine how much impact that permafrost carbon will have on future climate. The authors concluded that, across a range of studies, thawing permafrost in the Artic and sub-Arctic regions appears likely produce a gradual and prolonged release of substantial quantities of greenhouse gases spanning decades as opposed to an abrupt pulse release in a decade or less.

Modern climate change is attributed to human activities as a result of fossil fuel burning and deforestation, but natural ecosystems also play a role in the global carbon cycle. Human activities might start something in motion by releasing carbon gases but natural systems, even in remote places like the Arctic, are likely to add to this problem of climate change.

Citation:  E. A. G. Schuur, A. D. McGuire, C. Schädel, G. Grosse, J. W. Harden, D. J. Hayes, G. Hugelius, C. D. Koven, P. Kuhry, D. M. Lawrence, S. M. Natali, D. Olefeldt, V. E. Romanovsky, K. Schaefer, M. R. Turetsky, C. C. Treat  J. E. Vonk. Climate change and the permafrost carbon feedback. Nature 520, 171–179. 2015. doi:10.1038/nature14338

CliC Plans for the Year of Polar Prediction

YOPP LOGO b9682175dd2015 06 11 CliC4YOPP thumb- contributed by Alice Bradley, François Massonnet, and Jenny Baeseman

The Year of Polar Prediction (YOPP) is a major initiative of WMO’s World Weather Research Programme Polar Prediction Project (WWRP-PPP). The mission, to “enable a significant improvement in environmental prediction capabilities for the polar regions and beyond,” will be achieved through a combination of observational and modeling efforts, including focus on user engagement and education.

YOPP is coordinated by a steering group together with a group of representatives from partners and like-minded initiatives, including CliC. YOPP is still in the planning stages, developing an implementation plan and coordinating with the polar science community in preparation for the intensive observational and modeling period in 2017-2019. Major activities in this period include dedicated model experiments, coupled data assimilation, intensive verification efforts, and special observational efforts including both field campaigns and satellite remote sensing.

The Climate and Cryosphere project (CliC) is one of the 4 core projects of the World Climate Research Programme, and is tasked with coordinating research efforts within the cryosphere community and climate research. The primary scientific goals of CliC are to assess and quantify the impacts of climatic variability and change on components of the cryosphere and their consequences for the climate system, and to determine the stability of the global cryosphere. These goals are closely aligned with the YOPP mission, as the cryosphere is a dominant component of the polar climate system that is the central focus of YOPP. As a partner organization to the YOPP initiative, CliC efforts in support of the YOPP objectives can make a critical contribution to the overall success of the project.

CliC is composed of established working groups, limited-lifetime targeted activities and technical committees. These contributions are based on existing projects; the role of CliC will be to coordinate efforts between researchers rather than initiate new projects. Ongoing work by these groups comprises the bulk of the contributions that CliC can make to the YOPP efforts. This document outlines these contributions in the observational and modeling domains as well as in outreach and community building.

Download the CliC Plan's for YOPP.

CliC Welcomes New Fellows Bradley and Massonnet

Alice BradleyCliC is pleased to welcome two new CliC Fellows to our project. Alice Bradley and Francois Massonnet are CliC's Fellows working on our contribtuions to the Year of Polar Prediction. They join Ylva Sjoberg to become the three early career researchers who are part of our pilot Fellows program. Each of these talented early career researchers are tasked with helping to coordinate and lead various activities under the CliC umbrella.

Alice Bradley is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Colorado Boulder in the aerospace engineering department, focusing on remote sensing and Earth sciences. She is currently working on her dissertation, titled "Ice formation in the Arctic Ocean: Observed processes and climate feedbacks." Alice's research broadly focuses in sea ice - ocean - atmosphere interactions in environments with partial sea ice cover; ongoing research includes both the marginal ice zone in the Arctic and polynyas in the Antarctic, with a special focus in unmanned aircraft as a sensing platform. She did her undergraduate work in electrical engineering at Dartmouth College and received her M.S. in remote sensing from the University of Colorado. For more information on Alice, visit: http://ccar.colorado.edu/abradley/

francois massonnetFrancois Massonnet obtained his PhD in Sciences in 2014 from the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL). During his PhD, he developed various metrics to evaluate sea ice models used in the framework of climate reconstructions, predictions and projections. He participated as a contributing author to the IPCC WG1 AR5 and was involved in several national and international research projects about climate prediction and predictability. He also implemented data assimilation methods in large-scale sea ice models for state and parameter estimation.

Ylva SjobergDr Massonnet is now a F.R.S.-FNRS Post-Doctoral Fellow from the UCL and undertakes a 18-month scientific visit at the Catalan Institute of Climate Sciences (IC3, Barcelona) in the Climate Forecasting Unit (CFU) where he explores the seasonal-to-interannual predictability of extreme winters at mid-latitudes in response to Arctic climate change. In parallel, he is also implementing initialization methods for near-term prediction in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions. He is also part of the CliC Sea Ice and Modeling Forum and has written several reports for CliC on sea ice observation needs for modeling. Learn more about him here: http://uclouvain.academia.edu/FrancoisMassonnet

They join Ylva Sjoberg who is helping with our Permafrost Research Priorities targeted activity.  Ylva's PhD project focuses on exploring the interactions between permafrost and groundwater, which is crucial for understanding future changes that can be expected in the Arctic with climate warming. The aim is to assess the effects of permafrost thaw on hydrology both at a detailed and process-oriented scale, and at catchment scales. This is done by analyzing long-term river discharge data, field mapping of ground-ice using geophysical methods, and physically-based modeling of coupled groundwater flows and heat transport. Ylva is helping to facilitate the IPA/CliC Permafrost Research Priorities Targeted Activity.

The CliC Fellows program is a collaborative effort with the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists.

Sea-Ice Model Intercomparison Project (SIMIP) protocol available online

-Contributed by Dirk Notz

simip seaice2The Sea-Ice Model Intercomparison Project (SIMIP) of the 6th version of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6) aims at a better understanding of the role of sea ice for the Earth's climate system. In particular, we want establish the sensitivity of sea ice to changes in the external forcing, understand differences between individual model simluations, and examine how predictable the future evolution of sea ice is on time scales ranging from days to centuries.

To reach these aims, SIMIP has compiled a new protocol for the output of sea-ice related variables from coupled model simulations. This protocol allows any researcher to analyse the three main budgets that govern the evolution of sea ice, namely conservation of heat, the momentum budget, and salt/tracer conservation. Based on an analysis of these budgets, one can identify the main reason for a different response of sea ice both within a set of models and between individual models and reality. Thus, it becomes possible to understand model biases and to improve our simulations of future sea-ice evolution. In particular, we will be able to quantify how much of the current spread of model simulations of future Arctic sea-ice evolution can possibly still be improved by improving the model, versus how much of this spread is an inherent uncertainty of the dynamic climate system controlled by internal variability.

Supported by CliC, the SIMIP Steering Committee has over the past few months had an open consulting process with sea-ice researchers from various backgrounds to settle on a protocol that forms the best possible compromise between the complete coverage of sea-ice related model output and minimizing storage requirements. This protocol is now finalised and currently under consideration by the CMIP6 panel. In particular, the panel will establish how much of this protocol will be included into the recommended set of variables that must be stored for the CMIP6 DECK experiments. Once this is done, we will eagerly await the first results from CMIP6 to start analysing sea-ice evolution in the simulations at a more detailed level than has ever been possible before.

The SIMIP protocol is available for download and further comments at: http://www.climate-cryosphere.org/activities/targeted/simip

Report Available: Permafrost Carbon Network Leads Meeting 2015

1-PCN 2015The Permafrost Carbon Network (www.permafrostcarbon.org) held another successful workshop for synthesis leads and co-leads in Flagstaff, AZ, USA (May 11-12, 2015). The objectives of this workshop were to bring together leading scientists of the Permafrost Carbon Network to discuss and plan new synthesis products. One particular focus of this meeting was to advance model development by exploring benchmarking tools that can be provided by field and lab based scientists along with finalized model output from the Permafrost Carbon Model Intercomparison Project that estimates the permafrost carbon climate feedback for this century and beyond. In advance of the workshop, participants prepared scoping papers that contained details about the new syntheses. The majority of the workshop was used to discuss and refine these newly proposed synthesis activities as a group and to outline best strategies for ways forward. The follow-up activities of this workshop are outlined in individual scoping documents, which are shared with members of the Permafrost Carbon Network through our website. Upcoming, we will have short presentations during our 5th Annual Meeting of the Permafrost Carbon Network at AGU in December of 2015, where brief updates about the progress of individual synthesis activities will be given to the larger community of scientists. The workshop in Flagstaff, AZ was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, Climate and Cryosphere (CliC) and contributions from individual participants.

Read the Report

Presentations Available:

T Schuur: Permafrost Carbon Network Update
D McGuire: Model-Integration Working Group Products of Synthesis
C Koven: The Pan Incubation-Panarctic Thermal Scaling Approach

CliC Director on Arctic Panel at IOC-UNESCO

2015-ICO-Baeseman_Photo-from-GOOSAn Ocean Science Day was organized by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO) on 17 June 2015 to share recent developments in ocean science with representatives of its 147 Member States, networks and partners. The overall objective was to improve decision makers’ understanding and awareness of current challenges and emerging issues, through lectures and panel discussions with eminent experts. Presentations and debates focused on the linkages between ocean health and human wellbeing, the potential of the latest advancements in monitoring technology, current scientific challenges in the Arctic and the legacy of the International India Ocean Expedition.

CliC’s Director, Jenny Baeseman, joined Volker Rachold from IASC and Erik Bunch of EuroGOOS to discuss “Scientific Challenges in the Arctic” chaired by Vladimir Ryabinin of IOC. The rapid transformations occurring in the Arctic are affecting the entire Earth system, including its climate and weather extremes, through increased temperatures and the continuing loss of ice, glaciers, snow and permafrost. These rapid changes are challenging our ability to provide decision-makers with the necessary knowledge on the consequences. Sustained observations and improved understanding of local, regional and global processes are required in order to anticipate changes in the Arctic. Download Jenny’s presentation here. Read more about the Ocean Science Day at: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/ioc-oceans/single-view-oceans/news/current_challenges_and_emerging_issues_of_ocean_science/#.VYpcPufk5NE

Seeking Comments on Southern Ocean Satellite Needs Community Report

so sat req withscarIn order to address growing disparities in Polar remote sensing, and in particular to articulate the satellite needs specific to the Southern Ocean, last year SOOS (The Southern Ocean Observing System) and CliC (Climate and the Cryosphere Project) coordinated a community survey to canvas uses of remote sensing and define limitations and recommendations for improvement of Southern Ocean remote sensing.

These survey responses have been brought together into a summary report, which we are now circulating again around the entire Southern Ocean community (both operational and research). Sections of the report include sea ice variables, atmospheric parameters, SST, SSH, SSS, terrestrial cryospheric connections, marine microbes / ocean color, marine biology, surface winds, and more.

We encourage all interested members of the Southern Ocean community to review relevant sections and submit any comments edits by the end of July. We want you, the community, to ensure that the content is complete and that the report’s recommendations are detailed, innovative, and accurate. The aim is that this review will represent the Southern Ocean community’s satellite data needs for the coming decade. It is designed to stand as an important strategy paper that provides the rationale and information required for future strategic planning and investment.

We ask that you use a Google Doc to provide feedback, so that it can be a more collaborative effort (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1oCXwPU8ykGYv9h4W0i5lzIqWpcpF0m4JX6MRP6BjEJs/edit?usp=sharing; there is a linked table of contents to make it easier to access your section of interest). However, if you are unable to access the Doc for some reason, please contact us (; subj: Southern Ocean Satellite Report) and we will be able to provide you with a PDF or Word version.

Thank you for taking the time to contribute to this valuable community effort!
Allen Pope, NSIDC/UW  -  Penelope Wagner, MetNo  -  Rob Johnson, UTAS  -  Jenny Baeseman, CliC  -  Louise Newman, SOOS

Ice Sheet Model Intercomparison for CMIP6 (ISMIP6) endorsed by CMIP6

-Contributed by Sophie Nowicki

ismip6The Ice Sheet Model Intercomparison for CMIP6 (ISMIP6) is a CliC targeted activity established in Autumn 2014 with the aim of integrating modelling of the ice sheets into the next phase of the international Coupled Modelling Intercomparison Project (CMIP6) so that projections of mass budget (hence of sea level) are more readily available for the next IPCC. Recently, we received the fantastic news that ISMIP6 has been formally endorsed by CMIP. This will greatly aid the collaboration between the ice-sheet community and those working on other aspects of the coupled climate system. In particular, it will ensure the coordinated provision of climate forcing data for the ice sheets, and focus attention on the quality of climate simulation over (and around) the ice sheets.

Over the year, ISMIP6 has been making steady progress. Important developments include an initial workshop held at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center 16-18th July 2014 (supported by CliC) at which the ISMIP6 concept was discussed with the ice sheet and climate modelling communities. An important outcome was the recognition that two strands of modelling would be necessary: fully coupled in which the ice sheet model sits within a larger climate model and is fully coupled to it; and stand-alone in which ice sheet models are forced by the output of climate models (but are not explicitly coupled to them). The former will focus on Greenland, while the latter will involve both ice sheets. It was felt that fully-coupled modelling is not currently feasible for Antarctica because of uncertainties in both the oceanic forcing and ice-dynamic response of the ice sheet.

A Steering Committee has since been formed and has been working towards a first intercomparison exercise with the aim of developing community engagement from at an early stage. The committee comprises: co-chairs Sophie Nowicki, Eric Larour and Tony Payne with Bill Lipscomb, Heiko Goelzer, Ayako Abe-Ouchi, Andrew Shepherd, Helene Seroussi and Jonathan Gregory. Initial ideas for this exercise were discussed at the EGU in a splinter meeting organised by Heiko and Tamsin Edwards. The final experimental design will be agreed at the forthcoming International Glaciological Society symposium in Cambridge (August 16th-21st) with results presented at the Fall AGU. The theme for this intercomparison will be the methods of model initialisation and their effect on projections.

See more information on the upcoming ISMIP6 meeting at the IGS Symposium in Cambridge in Augsut 2015 here.