Subseasonal-to-Seasonal Arctic Sea Ice Forecast Skill Improvement from Sea Ice Concentration Assimilation
The current GFDL seasonal prediction system, the Seamless System for Prediction and EArth System Research (SPEAR), has shown skillful prediction of Arctic sea ice extent with atmosphere and ocean constrained by observations. In this study we present improvements in sub-seasonal and seasonal predictions of Arctic sea ice by directly assimilating sea ice observations. The sea ice initial conditions from a data assimilation (DA) system that assimilates satellite sea-ice concentration (SIC) observations are used to produce a set of reforecast experiments (IceDA) starting from the first day of each month from 1992 to 2017. Our evaluation of daily sea ice extent (SIE) prediction skill concludes that the SPEAR system generally outperforms the anomaly persistence forecast at lead times beyond 1 month. We primarily focus our analysis on daily grid-cell-level sea ice fields. SIC DA improves prediction skill of SIC forecasts prominently in the June, July, August, and September-initialized reforecasts. We evaluate two additional user-oriented metrics: the ice-free probability (IFP) and ice-free date (IFD). IFP is the probability of a grid cell experiencing ice-free conditions in a given year and IFD is the first date that a grid cell is ice-free. A combined analysis of IFP and IFD demonstrates that the SPEAR model can make skillful predictions of local ice melt as early as May, with modest improvements from SIC DA.