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Antarctic Sea Ice Area in CMIP6


Fully coupled climate models have long shown a wide range of Antarctic sea ice states and evolution over the satellite era. Here, we present a high-level evaluation of Antarctic sea ice in 40 models from the most recent phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6). Many models capture key characteristics of the mean seasonal cycle of sea ice area (SIA), but some simulate implausible historical mean states compared to satellite observations, leading to large intermodel spread. Summer SIA is consistently biased low across the ensemble. Compared to the previous model generation (CMIP5), the intermodel spread in winter and summer SIA has reduced, and the regional distribution of sea ice concentration has improved. Over 1979–2018, many models simulate strong negative trends in SIA concurrently with stronger-than-observed trends in global mean surface temperature (GMST). By the end of the 21st century, models project clear differences in sea ice between forcing scenarios.

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