D03: Interactions between atmosphere and sea ice-ocean in the Arctic

The central aim of this project is to understand local feedback mechanisms between the atmosphere and sea ice-ocean in the Arctic, which are critical for Arctic amplification. Leads in sea ice will be investigated, which influence the heat and moisture exchange between the ocean and atmosphere. We will study their impacts on the atmosphere (heat and moisture fluxes, clouds, atmospheric circulation) and the oceanic mixed-layer sea-ice system. Leads are not uniformly distributed over the Arctic Ocean and have a different impact on the atmosphere depending on the time of the year. They are critical for the sea-ice formation in the cold season. New satellite data provide statistics about lead occurrence, Arctic wide, regionally, and for different seasons. Their characteristics and refreezing-rates will be compared within this project between model and observations. Furthermore, links to the dynamical variables (e.g., wind, ice drift) will be explored. Also, sea-ice roughness and its effects on the momentum, heat, and moisture transfer between both atmosphere and sea ice and atmosphere and ocean will be investigated. Particularly, the effect of different roughness length scales on the sea-ice dynamics will be evaluated. The study of atmosphere and sea ice-ocean interactions will include the influence of atmospheric circulation, in particular the role of synoptic cyclones. We will investigate, on the one hand, the storm-induced thermodynamic and dynamic responses of sea ice and the upper ocean and, on the other hand, the impact of Atlantic water inflow and ocean conditions on sea-ice and atmospheric changes. Ensemble simulations and dedicated sensitivity studies with the coupled regional atmosphere-ice-ocean model of the Arctic climate system HIRHAM–NAOSIM, linked with new satellite-derived data of Arctic-wide lead fraction and sea-ice surface roughness, will identify shortcomings in the process description. They will also help to understand associated regional feedback mechanisms, as well as the role of atmosphere-ice ocean interactions in Arctic amplification.


Regional feedback processes between atmosphere and sea ice–ocean associated with leads and cyclones are critical mechanisms for Arctic amplification.

Specifically we want to answer the following questions:

  • How do sea-ice conditions (e.g., lead fraction, ice roughness) impact the air-ice/ocean momentum and energy exchange, and the atmospheric boundary layer and circulation?
  • What is the role of the not yet fully understood cyclone – sea ice feedback mechanisms in Arctic amplification?

Achievements phase I

D03 achieved new data sets of sea-ice concentration (Lu et al., 2018), thickness, and snow depth on sea ice (Rostosky et al., 2018). Furthermore, the new coupled regional atmosphere-ice-ocean model HIRHAM-NAOSIM was upgraded with new model components, which include physical and numerical improvements and higher resolution, and a revised coupling (Dorn et al., 2018). Improved Arctic process descriptions (sea-ice drag and albedo) were implemented. An assessment of cyclone characteristics and the relation between atmospheric circulation anomalies (including intense storms) and sea ice was realised (Graham et al., 2019a; Semenov et al., 2019). Simulations with HIRHAM-NAOSIM have revealed a clear statistical relationship between summer sea-ice melt rate and atmospheric circulation (Rinke et al., 2019).

Role within (AC)³



Dr. Gunnar Spreen

Principal Investigator

University of Bremen
Institute of Environmental Physics (IUP)
Otto-Hahn-Allee 1
28359 Bremen


++49 (0) 421 218 62190



Philip Rostosky


University of Bremen
Institute of Environmental Physics (IUP)
Otto-Hahn-Allee 1
28359 Bremen


++49 (0) 421 218 62173



Dr. Annette Rinke

Principal Investigator

Alfred-Wegener-Institute Helmholtz-Center for Polar and Marine Research (AWI)
Telegrafenberg A43
14473 Potsdam


++49 (0) 331 288 2130



Dr. Wolfgang Dorn


Alfred-Wegener-Insitute Helmhotz Center for Polar and Marine Research (AWI)
Telegrafenberg A43
14473 Potsdam


++49 (0) 331 288 2164



Prof. Dr. Klaus Dethloff

Corresponding Member

Alfred-Wegener-Institute Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research (AWI)
Telegrafenberg A43
14473 Potsdam


++49 (0) 331 288 2104





Spreen, G., L. de Steur, D. Divine, E. Hansen, S. Gerland, & R. Kwok, 2020: Arctic Sea Ice Volume Export through Fram Strait From 1992 to 2014. J. Geophys. Res. Oceans, 125, e2019JC016039. doi:10.1029/2019JC016039

Sedlar, J., Tjernström, M., Rinke, A., Orr, A., Cassano, J., Fettweis, X., et al., 2020. Confronting Arctic troposphere, clouds, and surface energy budget representations in regional climate models with observations. J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 125. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019JD031783

Rostosky, P., Spreen, G., Gerland, S., Huntemann, M., & Mech, M., 2020. Modeling the microwave emission of snow on Arctic sea ice for estimating the uncertainty of satellite retrievals. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 125, e2019JC015465. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019JC015465

Akperov, M., V. Semenov, I. Mokhov, W. Dorn, and A. Rinke, 2020: Impact of Atlantic water inflow on winter cyclone activity in the Barents Sea: Insights from coupled regional climate model simulations, Envir. Res. Lett., 15, 024009, https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ab6399


Dethloff, K., Handorf, D., Jaiser, R. and Rinke, A., 2019, Kältere Winter durch abnehmendes arktisches Meereis. Phys. Unserer Zeit, 50: 290-297. doi:10.1002/piuz.201901547

Yu, X., A. Rinke, W. Dorn, G. Spreen, C. Lüpkes, H. Sumata, and V. Gryanik, 2019:  Evaluation of Arctic sea-ice drift and its dependency on near-surface wind and sea-ice concentration and thickness in the coupled regional climate model HIRHAM-NAOSIM, The Cryosphere, https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-14-1727-2020

Akperov, M., A. Rinke, and 21 coauthors, 2019: Future projections of cyclone activity in the Arctic for the 21st century from regional climate models (Arctic-CORDEX), Glob. Planet. Change182, 103005, doi:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2019.103005

Dorn, W., A. Rinke, C. Köberle, K. Dethloff, and R. Gerdes, 2019: Evaluation of the sea-ice simulation in the upgraded version of the coupled regional atmosphere-ocean-sea ice model HIRHAM–NAOSIM 2.0, Atmosphere, 10, 431, doi:10.3390/atmos10080431

Vihma, T., R. Graversen, L. Chen, D. Handorf, N. Skific, J.A. Francis, N. Tyrrell, R. Hall, E. Hanna, P. Uotila, K. Dethloff, A.Y. Karpechko, H. Björnsson, J.E. Overland, 2019: Effects of the tropospheric large‐scale circulation on European winter temperatures during the period of amplified Arctic warming, accepted for publication in International Journal of Climatology, doi:10.1002/joc.6225

Jäkel, E.J. StapfM. WendischM. Nicolaus, W. Dorn, and A. Rinke, 2019: Validation of the sea ice surface albedo scheme of the regional climate model HIRHAM–NAOSIM using aircraft measurements during the ACLOUD/PASCAL campaigns, The Cryosphere13, 1695-1708, doi:10.5194/tc-13-1695-2019

Graham, R., P. Itkin , A. Meyer, A. Sundfjord, G. Spreen, L. H. Smedsrud, G. E. Liston, B. Cheng, L. Cohen, D. Divine, I. Fer, A. Fransson, S. Gerland, J. Haapala, S. R. Hudson, A. M. Johansson, J. King, I. Merkouriadi, A. K. Peterson, C. Provost, A. Randelhoff, A. Rinke, A. Rösel, N. Sennéchael, V. P. Walden, P. Duarte, P. Assmy, H. Steen, and M. A. Granskog, 2019: Winter storms accelerate the demise of sea ice in the Atlantic Sector of the Arctic Ocean, Scientific Reports 9, 9222, doi:10.1038/s41598-019-45574-5

Rinke, A., E. Knudsen, D. Mewes, W. Dorn, D. Handorf, K. Dethloff, J.C. Moore, 2019: Arctic summer sea-ice melt and related atmospheric conditions in coupled regional climate model simulations, J. Geophys. Res., 124doi:10.1029/2018JD030207

Graham, R., L. Cohen, N. Ritzhaupt, B. Segger, R. Graversen, A. Rinke, V.P. Walden, M.A. Granskog, S.R. Hudson, 2019: Evaluation of six atmospheric reanalyses over Arctic sea ice from winter to early spring, accepted for publication in J. Clim., 32 (14), 4121-4143, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-18-0643.1

Wendisch, M., A. Macke, A. Ehrlich, C. Lüpkes, M. Mech, D. Chechin, K. Dethloff, C. Barrientos, H. Bozem, M. Brückner, H.-C. Clemen, S. Crewell, T. Donth, R. Dupuy, C. Dusny, K. Ebell, U. Egerer, R. Engelmann, C. Engler, O. Eppers, M. Gehrmann, X. Gong, M. Gottschalk, C. Gourbeyre, H. Griesche, J. Hartmann, M. Hartmann, B. HeinoldA. Herber, H. Herrmann, G. Heygster, P. Hoor, S. Jafariserajehlou, E. Jäkel, E. Järvinen, O. Jourdan, U. Kästner, S. Kecorius, E.M. Knudsen, F. Köllner, J. Kretzschmar, L. Lelli, D. Leroy, M. Maturilli, L. Mei, S. Mertes, G. Mioche, R. Neuber, M. Nicolaus, T. Nomokonova, J. Notholt, M. Palm, M. van Pinxteren, J. Quaas, P. Richter, E. Ruiz-Donoso, M. Schäfer, K. Schmieder, M. Schnaiter, J. Schneider, A. Schwarzenböck, P. Seifert, M.D. Shupe, H. Siebert, G. Spreen, J. Stapf, F. Stratmann, T. Vogl, A. Welti, H. Wex, A. Wiedensohler, M. Zanatta, S. Zeppenfeld, 2019: The Arctic Cloud Puzzle: Using ACLOUD/PASCAL Multi-Platform Observations to Unravel the Role of Clouds and Aerosol Particles in Arctic Amplification, Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 100 (5), 841–871, doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-18-0072.1

Semenov, A., X. Zhang, A. Rinke, W. Dorn, K. Dethloff, 2019: Arctic intense summer storms and their impacts on sea ice – a regional climate modeling study, Atmosphere, 10, 218, doi:10.3390/atmos10040218

Pațilea, C., G. Heygster, M. Huntemann, and G. Spreen, 2019: Combined SMAP/SMOS Thin Sea Ice Thickness Retrieval. The Cryosphere13, 675-691, doi:10.5194/tc-13-675-2019

Fritzner, S., R. Graversen, P. Rostosky, and K. Wang, 2019: Impact of assimilating sea ice concentration, sea ice thickness and snow depth in a coupled ocean-sea ice modeling system. The Cryosphere, 13, 491-509, doi:10.5194/tc-13-491-2019

Dethloff, K., D. Handorf, R. Jaiser, A. Rinke, P. Klinghammer, 2019: Dynamical mechanisms of Arctic amplification, Annals of New York Academy of Sciences, 1436, doi:10.1111/nyas.13698


Knudsen, E.M., B. Heinold, S. Dahlke, H. Bozem, S. Crewell, I. V. Gorodetskaya, G. Heygster, D. Kunkel, M. MaturilliM. Mech, C. Viceto, A. Rinke, H. Schmithüsen, A. Ehrlich, A. Macke, C. Lüpkes, M. Wendisch, 2018: Meteorological conditions during the ACLOUD/PASCAL field campaign near Svalbard in early summer 2017, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 17995-18022, doi:10.5194/acp-18-17995-2018

Dethloff, K., A. Rinke, D. Handorf, R. Jaiser, W. Dorn, A. Sommerfeld, 2018: Regionale und globale Wechselwirkung zwischen arktischem Meereis und der atmosphärischen Zirkulation, promet, 102, 14-20

Zhou, X., H. Matthes, A. Rinke, B. Huang, K. Yang, and K. Dethloff, 2019: Simulating Arctic 2-m air temperature and its linear trends using the HIRHAM5 regional climate model, Atmospheric Research, 217, 137-149, doi:10.1016/j.atmosres.2018.10.022

Eberhard, J., 2018: Internal variability of a coupled Arctic regional climate model, Bachelor Thesis, University of Potsdam

Rinke, A., D. Handorf, W. Dorn, K. Dethloff, J.C. Moore, X. Zhang, 2018: Atmospheric feedbacks on Arctic summer sea-ice anomalies in ensemble simulations of a coupled regional climate model, Advances in Polar Science, 29(3), doi:10.13679/j.advps.2018.3.00156

Rostosky, R.G. Spreen, S.L. Farrell, T. Frost, G. Heygster, and C. Melsheimer, 2018: Snow Depth Retrieval on Arctic Sea Ice From Passive Microwave Radiometers—Improvements and Extensions to Multiyear Ice Using Lower Frequencies, Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 123, 7120–7138, doi:10.1029/2018JC014028

Sato, K., J. Inoue, A. Yamazaki, J.-H. Kim, A. Makshtas, V. Kustov, M. Maturilli, and K. Dethloff , 2018: Impact on predictability of tropical and mid-latitude cyclones by extra Arctic observations, Nature Scientific Reports, 8, 12104, doi:10.1038/s41598-018-30594-4

Lu, J., G. Heygster, and G. Spreen, 2018: Atmospheric Correction of Sea Ice Concentration Retrieval for 89 GHz AMR-E Observations, IEEE JSTARS,  11(5), 1442–1457, 10.1109/JSTARS.2018.2805193

M. Zahn, M. Akperov, A. Rinke, F. Feser, I.I. Mokhov, 2018: Trends of cyclone characteristics in the Arctic and their patterns from different re-analysis data, J. Geophys. Res., 123, 2737-2751, doi:10.1002/2017JD027439

Akperov, A. Rinke, and the Arctic Cordex Team, 2018: Cyclone activity in the Arctic from an ensemble of regional climate models (Arctic CORDEX), J. Geophys. Res., 123, 2537-2554, doi:10.1002/2017JD027703

Itkin, P., G. Spreen, S.M. Hvidegaard, H. Skourup, J. Wilkinson, S. Gerland, and M.A. Granskog, 2018: Contribution of deformation to sea-ice mass balance: a case study from an N-ICE2015 storm, Geophys. Res. Lett.45, 789-796, doi:10.1002/2017GL076056

Rinke, A., M. Maturilli, R.M. Graham, H. Matthes, D. Handorf, L. Cohen, S.R. Hudson, and J.C. Moore, 2017: Extreme cyclone events in the Arctic: Wintertime variability and trends, Envir. Res. Lett., 12, 094006, doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aa7def

Graham, R. M., L. Cohen, A. A. Petty, L. N. Boisvert, A. Rinke, S. R. Hudson, M. Nicolaus, and M. A. Granskog, 2017: Increasing frequency and duration of Arctic winter warming events, Geophys. Res. Lett., 44, 6974–6983, doi:10.1002/2017GL073395

Wendisch, M., M. Brückner, J. P. Burrows, S. Crewell, K. Dethloff, K. Ebell, Ch. Lüpkes, A. Macke, J. Notholt, J. Quaas, A. Rinke, and I. Tegen, 2017: Understanding causes and effects of rapid warming in the Arctic. Eos, 98, doi:10.1029/2017EO064803

Graham, R.M., A. Rinke, L. Cohen, S.R. Hudson, V.P. Walden, M.A. Granskog, W. Dorn, M. Kayser, M. Maturilli, 2017: A comparison of the two Arctic atmospheric winter states observed during N‐ICE2015 and SHEBA,  J. Geophys. Res. Atm., 122, 5716-5737, doi:10.1002/2016JD025475

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