The Physics of Changing Polar Climate

Coordinators: Patrick Heimbach, Paul Kushner, Gudrun Magnusdottir, Mathieu Morlighem, and Helene Seroussi

Scientific Advisors: Matthew England, Brad Marston, Sophie Nowicki, Fiammetta Straneo, and Michael Tjernström

The polar regions remain poorly observed relative to other regions on Earth. As a result our physical understanding of polar processes and the interactions within the polar climate system, consisting of atmosphere and oceans, sea ice, ice shelves and ice sheets, remains weak. Since polar climate is sensitive to global warming, the polar regions are hotspots of rapid surface warming, cryospheric melt, and oceanic transformation. Our weak physical understanding of these regions limits confidence in projections of polar climate change and its global impacts. This program will bring together experts from atmospheric, oceanic, cryospheric and fundamental-physics perspectives to consider the physics of past, present, and future polar climate.

This program will cross traditionally siloed scientific domains, which share common physical, theoretical, and methodological foundations. We wish to attract a diverse group of participants across research fields, career stage, under-represented groups, as well as gender, from around the world. Urgent scientific issues include sea level rise; the causes and consequences of Arctic amplification of global warming; the coupling between glaciers, ice sheets, the atmosphere and ocean; and the transport of energy, moisture and constituents to and from high latitudes. We seek advances in theory, modeling, process understanding, state and parameter estimation, and observational science in polar regions. Given accelerating anthropogenic climate change in polar regions which urgently requires advances in modeling, observational, and data science, this program is very timely.