Atmospheric, Sea Ice, & Oceanic Properties in the Southern Ocean

Science Behind the Image

In the past 20 years, climate science and computational modeling have been thrust into the national spotlight as climate change has become a pressing global issue. The Sixth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (released in August 2021) makes extensive use of climate models to predict the effects of future emissions scenarios. One of those models, the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM), is featured in this visualization project.

The earth’s climate is complex with many interacting processes. Climate models mirror this complexity but allow researchers to analyze each variable at high resolution in space and time. Evaluation of these large data sets is important for climate science for verification, scientific understanding, and assessment of future emissions scenarios. The E3SM model was developed by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy. The data in this visualization was generated on Argonne National Laboratory supercomputers by Mark Petersen of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Visualization Behind the Image

This visualization and its accompanying video demonstrates the use of the E3SM model to study the impact of polynyas. Polynyas are openings within the polar sea ice pack formed and sustained by atmospheric and oceanic processes. They occur in the Arctic and Southern oceans, last for many months, and function as a conduit for heat and water between the oceanic and atmospheric systems. In this image we see the extent of the Antarctic ice on a particular day in the Antarctic winter with a large polynya in the Weddell Sea. The ocean surface shows latent heat flux — the transfer of heat between the ocean and the atmosphere. Pathlines show surface winds over the 10-day period prior to the timestep. The visualization was created by Francesca Samsel and Greg Abram using the Stampede2 supercomputer at TACC using Paraview and custom code visualization tools.

This visualization was a finalist in the SC21 Visualization Showcase. Credits: Francesca Samel, Greg Abram, Stephanie Zeller at TACC. Mark Petersen, LeAnn Conlon, Prajvala Kurtakoti, Linnea Palstom, John Patchett, Andrew Roberts at Los Alamos National Lab.



Francesca Samel
Greg Abram
Stephanie Zeller

Los Alamos National Lab

Mark Petersen
LeAnn Conlon
Prajvala Kurtakoti
Linnea Palstom
John Patchett
Andrew Roberts


SC21 Visualization Showcase Finalist