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Evidence of meltwater retention within the Greenland ice sheet  [PDF]
A. K. Rennermalm,L. C. Smith,V. W. Chu,J. E. Box
The Cryosphere Discussions , 2012, DOI: 10.5194/tcd-6-3369-2012
Abstract: Greenland ice sheet mass losses have increased in recent decades with approximately half of these attributed to increased surface meltwater runoff. However, controls on ice sheet water release, and the magnitude of englacial storage, firn densification, internal refreezing and other hydrologic processes that delay or reduce true water export to the global ocean remain poorly understood. This problem is amplified by scant hydrometerological measurements. Here, ice sheet surface meltwater runoff and proglacial river discharge determined between 2008 and 2010 for three sites near Kangerlussuaq, western Greenland were used to establish the water budget for a small ice sheet watershed. The water budget could not be closed in the three years, even when uncertainty ranges were considered. Instead between 12% and 53% of ice sheet surface runoff is retained within the glacier each melt year (time between onset of ice sheet runoff in two consecutive years). Evidence of the ice sheet summer meltwater escaping during the cold-season suggests that the Greenland ice sheet cryo-hydrologic system may remain active year round.
Refreezing on the Greenland ice sheet: a comparison of parameterizations  [PDF]
C. H. Reijmer,M. R. van den Broeke,J. Ettema,L. B. Stap
The Cryosphere Discussions , 2011, DOI: 10.5194/tcd-5-2723-2011
Abstract: Retention and refreezing of meltwater are acknowledged to be important processes for the mass budget of polar glaciers and ice sheets. Several parameterizations of these processes exist for use in energy and mass balance models. Due to a lack of direct observations, validation of these parameterizations is difficult. In this study we compare a set of 6 refreezing parameterizations against output of the Regional Atmospheric Climate Model (RACMO2), applied to the Greenland ice sheet. In RACMO2, refreezing is explicitly calculated in a snow model that calculates vertical profiles of temperature, density and liquid water content. For consistency, the parameterizations are forced with output (surface temperature, precipitation and melt) of RACMO2. For the ice sheet-integrated amount of refreezing and its inter-annual variations, all parameterizations give similar results, especially after some tuning. However, the spatial distributions differ significantly. Results are especially sensitive to the choice of the depth of the thermally active layer, which determines the cold content of the snow in most parameterizations.
Brief Communication "Expansion of meltwater lakes on the Greenland ice sheet"
I. M. Howat,S. de la Pe?a,J. H. van Angelen,J. T. M. Lenaerts
The Cryosphere Discussions , 2012, DOI: 10.5194/tcd-6-4447-2012
Abstract: Forty years of satellite imagery reveal that meltwater lakes on the margin of the Greenland Ice Sheet have expanded substantially inland to higher elevations with warming. These lakes are important because they provide a mechanism for bringing water to the ice bed, warming the ice and causing sliding. Inland expansion of lakes could accelerate ice flow by bringing water to previously frozen bed, potentially increasing future rates of mass loss. Increasing lake elevations in West Greenland closely follow the rise of the mass balance equilibrium line, suggesting no physical limit on lake expansion there. This is not included in ice sheet models.
Large sensitivity of a Greenland ice sheet model to atmospheric forcing fields  [PDF]
A. Quiquet,H. J. Punge,C. Ritz,X. Fettweis
The Cryosphere Discussions , 2012, DOI: 10.5194/tcd-6-1037-2012
Abstract: The prediction of future climate and ice sheet evolution requires coupling of ice sheet and climate models. Before proceeding to a coupled setup, we propose to analyze the impact of model simulated climate on an ice sheet. Here, we undertake this exercise for a set of regional and global climate models. Modelled near surface air temperature and precipitation are provided as upper boundary condition to the GRISLI (GRenoble Ice Shelf and Land Ice model) hybrid ice sheet model (ISM) in its Greenland configuration. After 20 kyr of simulation, the resulting ice sheets highlight the differences between the climate models. While modelled ice sheet sizes are generally comparable to the observed ones, there are considerable deviations among the ice sheets on regional scales. These can be explained by difficulties in modelling local temperature and precipitation near the coast. This is especially true in the case of global models. But the deviations of each climate model are also due to the differences in the atmospheric general circulation. In the context of coupling ice sheet and climate models, we conclude that appropriate downscaling methods will be needed and systematic corrections of the climatic variables at the interface may be required in some cases to obtain realistic results for the Greenland ice sheet (GIS).
Sensitivity of a Greenland ice sheet model to atmospheric forcing fields  [PDF]
A. Quiquet,H. J. Punge,C. Ritz,X. Fettweis
The Cryosphere , 2012, DOI: 10.5194/tc-6-999-2012
Abstract: Predicting the climate for the future and how it will impact ice sheet evolution requires coupling ice sheet models with climate models. However, before we attempt to develop a realistic coupled setup, we propose, in this study, to first analyse the impact of a model simulated climate on an ice sheet. We undertake this exercise for a set of regional and global climate models. Modelled near surface air temperature and precipitation are provided as upper boundary conditions to the GRISLI (GRenoble Ice Shelf and Land Ice model) hybrid ice sheet model (ISM) in its Greenland configuration. After 20 kyrs of simulation, the resulting ice sheets highlight the differences between the climate models. While modelled ice sheet sizes are generally comparable to the observed one, there are considerable deviations among the ice sheets on regional scales. These deviations can be explained by biases in temperature and precipitation near the coast. This is especially true in the case of global models. But the deviations between the climate models are also due to the differences in the atmospheric general circulation. To account for these differences in the context of coupling ice sheet models with climate models, we conclude that appropriate downscaling methods will be needed. In some cases, systematic corrections of the climatic variables at the interface may be required to obtain realistic results for the Greenland ice sheet (GIS).
Refreezing on the Greenland ice sheet: a comparison of parameterizations  [PDF]
C. H. Reijmer,M. R. van den Broeke,X. Fettweis,J. Ettema
The Cryosphere , 2012, DOI: 10.5194/tc-6-743-2012
Abstract: Retention and refreezing of meltwater are acknowledged to be important processes for the mass budget of polar glaciers and ice sheets. Several parameterizations of these processes exist for use in energy and mass balance models. Due to a lack of direct observations, validation of these parameterizations is difficult. In this study we compare a set of 6 refreezing parameterizations against output of two Regional Climate Models (RCMs) coupled to an energy balance snow model, the Regional Atmospheric Climate Model (RACMO2) and the Modèle Atmosphérique Régional (MAR), applied to the Greenland ice sheet. In both RCMs, refreezing is explicitly calculated in a snow model that calculates vertical profiles of temperature, density and liquid water content. Between RACMO2 and MAR, the ice sheet-integrated amount of refreezing differs by only 4.9 mm w.e yr 1 (4.5 %), and the temporal and spatial variability are very similar. For consistency, the parameterizations are forced with output (surface temperature, precipitation and melt) of the RCMs. For the ice sheet-integrated amount of refreezing and its inter-annual variations, all parameterizations give similar results, especially after some tuning. However, the spatial distributions differ significantly and the spatial correspondence between the RCMs is better than with any of the parameterizations. Results are especially sensitive to the choice of the depth of the thermally active layer, which determines the cold content of the snow in most parameterizations. These results are independent of which RCM is used to force the parameterizations.
An ice flow modeling perspective on bedrock adjustment patterns of the Greenland ice sheet  [PDF]
M. Olaizola,R. S. W. van de Wal,M. M. Helsen,B. de Boer
The Cryosphere , 2012, DOI: 10.5194/tc-6-1263-2012
Abstract: Since the launch in 2002 of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites, several estimates of the mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) have been produced. To obtain ice mass changes, the GRACE data need to be corrected for the effect of deformation changes of the Earth's crust. Recently, a new method has been proposed where ice mass changes and bedrock changes are simultaneously solved. Results show bedrock subsidence over almost the entirety of Greenland in combination with ice mass loss which is only half of the currently standing estimates. This subsidence can be an elastic response, but it may however also be a delayed response to past changes. In this study we test whether these subsidence patterns are consistent with ice dynamical modeling results. We use a 3-D ice sheet–bedrock model with a surface mass balance forcing based on a mass balance gradient approach to study the pattern and magnitude of bedrock changes in Greenland. Different mass balance forcings are used. Simulations since the Last Glacial Maximum yield a bedrock delay with respect to the mass balance forcing of nearly 3000 yr and an average uplift at present of 0.3 mm yr 1. The spatial pattern of bedrock changes shows a small central subsidence as well as more intense uplift in the south. These results are not compatible with the gravity based reconstructions showing a subsidence with a maximum in central Greenland, thereby questioning whether the claim of halving of the ice mass change is justified.
A computationally efficient model for the Greenland ice sheet  [PDF]
J. Haqq-Misra,P. Applegate,B. Tuttle,R. Nicholas
The Cryosphere Discussions , 2012, DOI: 10.5194/tcd-6-2751-2012
Abstract: We present a one-dimensional model of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS) for use in analysis of future sea level rise. Simulations using complex three-dimensional models suggest that the GIS may respond in a nonlinear manner to anthropogenic climate forcing and cause potentially nontrivial sea level rise. These GIS projections are, however, deeply uncertain. Analyzing these uncertainties is complicated by the substantial computational demand of the current generation of complex three-dimensional GIS models. As a result, it is typically computationally infeasible to perform the large number of model evaluations required to carefully explore a multi-dimensional parameter space, to fuse models with observational constraints, or to assess risk-management strategies in Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) of climate change. Here we introduce GLISTEN (GreenLand Ice Sheet ENhanced), a computationally efficient, mechanistically based, one-dimensional flow-line model of GIS mass balance capable of reproducing key instrumental and paleo-observations as well as emulating more complex models. GLISTEN is based on a simple model developed by Pattyn (2006). We have updated and extended this original model by improving its computational functionality and representation of physical processes such as precipitation, ablation, and basal sliding. The computational efficiency of GLISTEN enables a systematic and extensive analysis of the GIS behavior across a wide range of relevant parameters and can be used to represent a potential GIS threshold response in IAMs. We demonstrate the utility of GLISTEN by performing a pre-calibration and analysis. We find that the added representation of processes in GLISTEN, along with pre-calibration of the model, considerably improves the hindcast skill of paleo-observations.
Brief Communication "Expansion of meltwater lakes on the Greenland Ice Sheet"  [PDF]
I. M. Howat,S. de la Pe?a,J. H. van Angelen,J. T. M. Lenaerts
The Cryosphere , 2013, DOI: 10.5194/tc-7-201-2013
Abstract: Forty years of satellite imagery reveal that meltwater lakes on the margin of the Greenland Ice Sheet have expanded substantially inland to higher elevations with warming. These lakes are important because they provide a mechanism for bringing water to the ice bed, causing sliding. Inland expansion of lakes could accelerate ice flow by bringing water to previously frozen bed, potentially increasing future rates of mass loss. Increasing lake elevations closely follow the rise of the mass balance equilibrium line over much of the ice sheet, suggesting no physical limit on lake expansion. Data are not yet available to detect a corresponding change in ice flow, and the potential effects of lake expansion on ice sheet dynamics are not included in ice sheet models.
Preliminary assessment of model parametric uncertainty in projections of Greenland Ice Sheet behavior  [PDF]
P. J. Applegate,N. Kirchner,E. J. Stone,K. Keller
The Cryosphere Discussions , 2011, DOI: 10.5194/tcd-5-3175-2011
Abstract: Lack of knowledge about the values of ice sheet model input parameters introduces substantial uncertainty into projections of Greenland Ice Sheet contributions to future sea level rise. Computer models of ice sheet behavior provide one of several means of estimating future sea level rise due to mass loss from ice sheets. Such models have many input parameters whose values are not well known. Recent studies have investigated the effects of these parameters on model output, but the range of potential future sea level increases due to model parametric uncertainty has not been characterized. Here, we demonstrate that this range is large, using a 100-member perturbed-physics ensemble with the SICOPOLIS ice sheet model. Each model run is spun up over 125 000 yr using geological forcings, and subsequently driven into the future using an asymptotically increasing air temperature anomaly curve. All modeled ice sheets lose mass after 2005 AD. After culling the ensemble to include only members that give reasonable ice volumes in 2005 AD, the range of projected sea level rise values in 2100 AD is 30 % or more of the median. Data on past ice sheet behavior can help reduce this uncertainty, but none of our ensemble members produces a reasonable ice volume change during the mid-Holocene, relative to the present. This problem suggests that the model's exponential relation between temperature and precipitation does not hold during the Holocene, or that the central-Greenland temperature forcing curve used to drive the model is not representative of conditions around the ice margin at this time (among other possibilities). Our simulations also lack certain observed physical processes that may tend to enhance the real ice sheet's response. Regardless, this work has implications for other studies that use ice sheet models to project or hindcast the behavior of the Greenland ice sheet.
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