Experimental Sea Ice Forecasts

What is CAFS?

Tthe NOAA ESRL Coupled Arctic Forecast System (CAFS) is adapted from the Regional Arctic System Model (Maslowski et al. 2012), modified for short-term weather-scale forecasts and includes the following model components: the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF3.5.1; run with 40 vertical levels) atmospheric model; the Parallel Ocean Program (POP2) model; the Los Alamos Community Ice Model (CICE5.1, Hunke et al. 2013); and the NCAR Community Land Model (CLM4.5). All components, run at 10 km horizontal resolution, are coupled using a regionalized version of the CESM flux coupler (CPL7), which includes modifications (Roberts et al. 2014) important for resolving the sea ice pack response to weather events. Other model optimizations include: a bulk double-moment cloud microphysics scheme for droplets and frozen hydrometeors (Morrison et al. 2009), running ensemble forecasts initialized with GEFS ensemble members, and extending the model domain to include the Bering Strait and Svalbard.

Arctic Sea Ice Quick Facts

The Arctic region is experiencing greater environmental changes than any other place on Earth and at unprecedented rates, including: record setting winter high temperatures; annually increasing areas of open-ocean in summer; and reductions in sea ice extent, age, and thickness (SWIPA, 2017)
2016 was the warmest year for the state of Alaska since records began in 1925 (2016 NOAA State of the Climate Report)
Sea ice forms as the surface of the ocean freezes. Ice that persists all year-long is called perennial ice. After melt season each summer, new ice forms in the late fall and is called first year ice. The Arctic now has more thin, first-year ice and less older, thicker ice since satellite records began in 1979.
The minimum sea ice extent in the Arctic occurs at the end of the melt season in mid-September and the maximum extent occurs at the end of the cold season in mid-March. In 2016, Arctic sea ice was at a record minimum extent (on September 10th—tied with 2007), and a record low maximum extent for the third straight year (NSIDC and NASA).
For daily updated information on sea ice extent and concentration, see the Arctic Sea Ice News and Analysis web page from the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Please contact Amy Solomon and Janet Intrieri with questions and comments. We are particularly interested if you find this information useful.
Note, the forecasts are experimental. NOAA ESRL is not responsible for any losses due to their use.
To reference plots, please include: "Plot provided by the NOAA Physical Sciences Laboratory, Boulder, CO from their website at https://psl.noaa.gov/"