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See detailMelting trends over the Greenland ice sheet (1958–2009) from spaceborne microwave data and regional climate models
Fettweis, Xavier ULg; Tedesco, Marco; van den Broeke, Michiel et al

in The Cryosphere [=TC] (2011), 5

To study near-surface melt changes over the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) since 1979, melt extent estimates from two regional climate models were compared with those obtained from spaceborne microwave ... [more ▼]

To study near-surface melt changes over the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) since 1979, melt extent estimates from two regional climate models were compared with those obtained from spaceborne microwave brightness temperatures using two different remote sensing algorithms. The results from the two models were consistent with those obtained with the remote sensing algorithms at both daily and yearly time scales, encouraging the use of the models for analyzing melting trends before the satellite era (1958–1979), when forcing data is available. Differences between satellite-derived and model-simulated results still occur and are used here to identify (i) biases in the snow models (notably in the albedo parametrization, in the thickness of a snow layer, in the maximum liquid water content within the snowpack and in the snowfall impacting the bare ice appearance in summer) and (ii) limitations in the use of passive microwave data for snowmelt detection at the edge of the ice sheet due to mixed pixel effect (e.g., tundra or rock nearby the ice sheet). The results from models and spaceborne microwave sensors confirm a significant (p-value = 0.01) increase in GrIS surface melting since 1979. The melt extent recorded over the last years (1998, 2003, 2005 and 2007) is unprecedented in the last 50 yr with the cumulated melt area in the 2000's being, on the average, twice that of the 1980's. [less ▲]

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See detailEstimation of the Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance for the 20th and 21st centuries
Fettweis, Xavier ULg; Hanna, Edward; Gallée, Hubert et al

in The Cryosphere [=TC] (2008), 2

Results from a regional climate simulation (1970–2006) over the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) reveals that more than 97% of the interannual variability of the modelled Surface Mass Balance (SMB) can be ... [more ▼]

Results from a regional climate simulation (1970–2006) over the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) reveals that more than 97% of the interannual variability of the modelled Surface Mass Balance (SMB) can be explained by the GrIS summer temperature anomaly and the GrIS annual precipitation anomaly. This multiple regression is then used to empirically estimate the GrIS SMB since 1900 from climatological time series. The projected SMB changes in the 21st century are investigated with the set of simulations performed with atmosphere-ocean general circulation models (AOGCMs) of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR4). These estimates show that the high surface mass loss rates of recent years are not unprecedented in the GrIS history of the last hundred years. The minimum SMB rate seems to have occurred earlier in the 1930s and corresponds to a zero SMB rate. The AOGCMs project that the SMB rate of the 1930s would be common at the end of 2100. The temperature would be higher than in the 1930s but the increase of accumulation in the 21st century would partly offset the acceleration of surface melt due to the temperature increase. However, these assumptions are based on an empirical multiple regression only validated for recent/current climatic conditions, and the accuracy and time homogeneity of the data sets and AOGCM results used in these estimations constitute a large uncertainty. [less ▲]

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See detailDiagnosing the extreme surface melt event over southwestern Greenland in 2007
Tedesco, Marco; Serreze, Marc; Fettweis, Xavier ULg

in The Cryosphere [=TC] (2008), 2

Analysis of passive microwave brightness temperatures from the space-borne Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) documents a record surface snowmelt over high elevations (above 2000 m) of the Greenland ... [more ▼]

Analysis of passive microwave brightness temperatures from the space-borne Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) documents a record surface snowmelt over high elevations (above 2000 m) of the Greenland ice sheet during summer of 2007. To interpret this record, results from the SSM/I are examined in conjunction with fields from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction/National Center for Atmospheric Research reanalysis and output from a regional climate model. The record surface melt reflects unusually warm conditions, seen in positive summertime anomalies of surface air temperatures, downwelling longwave radiation, 1000–500 hPa atmospheric thickness, and the net surface energy flux, linked in turn to southerly airflow over the ice sheet. Low snow accumulation may have contributed to the record through promoting anomalously low surface albedo. [less ▲]

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See detailReconstruction of the 1979–2006 Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance using the regional climate model MAR
Fettweis, Xavier ULg

in The Cryosphere [=TC] (2007), 1

Results from a 28-year simulation (1979–2006) over the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) reveal an increase of solid precipitation (+0.4±2.5 km3 yr−2) and run-off (+7.9±3.3 km3 yr−2) of surface meltwater. The ... [more ▼]

Results from a 28-year simulation (1979–2006) over the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) reveal an increase of solid precipitation (+0.4±2.5 km3 yr−2) and run-off (+7.9±3.3 km3 yr−2) of surface meltwater. The net effect of these competing factors is a significant Surface Mass Balance (SMB) loss of −7.2±5.1 km3 yr−2. The contribution of changes in the net water vapour flux (+0.02±0.09 km3 yr−2) and rainfall (+0.2±0.2 km3 yr−2) to the SMB variability is negligible. The meltwater supply has increased because the GrIS surface has been warming up +2.4°C since 1979. Sensible heat flux, latent heat flux and net solar radiation have not varied significantly over the last three decades. However, the simulated downward infrared flux has increased by 9.3 W m−2 since 1979. The natural climate variability (e.g. the North Atlantic Oscillation) does not explain these changes. The recent global warming, due to the greenhouse gas concentration increase induced by human activities, could be a cause of these changes. The doubling of surface meltwater flux into the ocean over the period 1979–2006 suggests that the overall ice sheet mass balance has been increasingly negative, given the likely meltwater-induced acceleration of outlet glaciers. This study suggests that increased melting overshadows over an increased accumulation in a warming scenario and that the GrIS is likely to keep losing mass in the future. An enduring GrIS melting will probably affect in the future an certain effect on the stability of the thermohaline circulation and the global sea level rise. [less ▲]

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