15/11/2018
NASA/Joe MacGregor CC @Flickr.com

The Italian National Antarctic Research Programme (PNRA) supports for the first time the Year of Polar Prediction (YOPP) by providing funds to five Italian projects to carry out intensive observational and modelling activities in order to improve prediction capabilities on a wide range of time scales in polar regions. Among the funded projects endorsed by YOPP, INVASI project lead by CMCC scientist Dorotea Iovino.

The Italian National Antarctic Research Programme (PNRA) supports for the first time the Year of Polar Prediction (YOPP) by providing funds to five Italian projects to carry out research in the fields of atmospheric science, sea-ice and polar ocean dynamics. YOPP is the flagship activity of the Polar Prediction Project (PPP), a 10-year (2013–2022) initiative of the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) World Weather Research Programme (WWRP), aiming at enabling a significant improvement in environmental prediction capabilities for the polar regions and beyond, by coordinating a period of intensive observing, modelling, verification, user-engagement and education activities.
Among the projects endorsed by YOPP and funded by PNRA, there is the project coordinated by the CMCC Foundation “INVASI – INterannual Variability of the Antarctic Sea Ice/ocean system from ocean reanalyses”, a two-year project aiming to proper estimate recent sea ice and ocean changes in the Antarctica region.

Antarctica region is a complex part of the Earth that affects the global surface energy budgets, atmospheric and oceanic dynamics. In spite of its relevance, Antarctic sea ice region is among the least understood of the climate system, and its response to a warming climate continues to confound expectations. Satellite data reveal that Antarctic sea ice extent has remained relatively stable since 1979, but with large interannual variability and a small increasing trend. After setting record-high maxima each September from 2012 to 2014, the Antarctic had record-low extent during September 2016 and 2017. What sets the properties and regulates the time-evolution of Antarctic sea ice remain among the fundamental unsolved questions, together with complex feedbacks (at play with high spatial and temporal variability) between the sea ice and other components of the climate system.
The INVASI project will contribute to quantify crucial sea ice properties, examine processes and interactions with other climate components in order to advance the understanding and prediction of climate change, and will provide recommendations to reduce uncertainties in future reanalyses.
The CMCC research team, lead by researcher Dorotea Iovino (ODA Division), proposes a specific investigation on state-of-the-art global ocean reanalyses (ORAs, a combination of ocean/sea ice models, atmospheric forcing fluxes and ocean observations via data assimilation methods) in order to provide the best estimates of the Antarctic climate evolution at hemispheric and regional scales while evaluating the temporal evolution of Antarctic sea ice. Ocean reanalyses are essential to realize an accurate estimation of time evolution of ocean/sea ice in polar regions in order to provide accurate climate and environmental forecasts.

ODA researchers will employ ORAs as a tool to estimate quantities that are difficult to infer from observations alone, such as ice thickness and drift, snow volume, and ocean properties below sea ice. “One essential step to reproduce key physical processes with unprecedented fidelity and enable detailed process representation and understanding is to enhance the modelling components toward a new generation of eddying ocean/sea ice system at global scale, that will allow to improve our understanding of mesoscale at high latitude and, with advancement in the assimilation scheme, will aid the design of future ORAs, numerical prediction systems and climate simulations”, Dr. Iovino explains.
The INVASI project will contribute to the implementation an advanced, high-resolution, global ocean reanalysis (3 km of horizontal resolution in the Antarctic region) able to explicitly resolve mesoscale dynamics in most of the global domain that will allow a better understanding of key dynamical processes that set the Antarctic climate variability.

The project INVASI received the endorsement by YOPP, as the project addresses or contributes to its general objectives. INVASI outcomes will facilitate progress in the development of tools and methods to monitor and assess climate variability and change, and evaluate climate predictability of the ocean-atmosphere-ice system in the Southern Ocean; and identify coordinated strategies to implement these methods, spanning observations, models, and process studies. Therefore, INVASI will benefit and will consolidate valuable synergies with research activities carried out under the ORA-IP and, within the YOPP activities, take a step in bridging the gap between predictions of climate variability on short and long-time scales. Together with the other new PNRA Antarctic projects, INVASI will strongly enrich the Italian contribution to the YOPP initiative with highly relevant new data sets and modelling activities to further help making YOPP a success.

The CMCC ODA – Ocean Modelling and Data Assimilation Division will lead the research activities and the CMCC scientist Dorotea Iovino is the INVASI Principal Investigator. Other CMCC researchers involved in the project are Dr. Simona Masina (ODA Division Director) and CMCC researcher Andrea Cipollone. Read more HERE.