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See detailEffect of uncertainty in surface mass balance–elevation feedback on projections of the future sea level contribution of the Greenland ice sheet
Edwards, T.; Fettweis, Xavier ULg; Gagliardini, O. et al

in Cryosphere (The) (2014), 8

We apply a new parameterisation of the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) feedback between surface mass balance (SMB: the sum of surface accumulation and surface ablation) and surface elevation in the MAR ... [more ▼]

We apply a new parameterisation of the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) feedback between surface mass balance (SMB: the sum of surface accumulation and surface ablation) and surface elevation in the MAR regional climate model (Edwards et al., 2014) to projections of future climate change using five ice sheet models (ISMs). The MAR (Modèle Atmosphérique Régional: Fettweis, 2007) climate projections are for 2000–2199, forced by the ECHAM5 and HadCM3 global climate models (GCMs) under the SRES A1B emissions scenario. The additional sea level contribution due to the SMB–elevation feedback averaged over five ISM projections for ECHAM5 and three for HadCM3 is 4.3% (best estimate; 95% credibility interval 1.8–6.9%) at 2100, and 9.6% (best estimate; 95% credibility interval 3.6–16.0%) at 2200. In all results the elevation feedback is significantly positive, amplifying the GrIS sea level contribution relative to the MAR projections in which the ice sheet topography is fixed: the lower bounds of our 95% credibility intervals (CIs) for sea level contributions are larger than the "no feedback" case for all ISMs and GCMs. Our method is novel in sea level projections because we propagate three types of modelling uncertainty – GCM and ISM structural uncertainties, and elevation feedback parameterisation uncertainty – along the causal chain, from SRES scenario to sea level, within a coherent experimental design and statistical framework. The relative contributions to uncertainty depend on the timescale of interest. At 2100, the GCM uncertainty is largest, but by 2200 both the ISM and parameterisation uncertainties are larger. We also perform a perturbed parameter ensemble with one ISM to estimate the shape of the projected sea level probability distribution; our results indicate that the probability density is slightly skewed towards higher sea level contributions. [less ▲]

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See detailProbabilistic parameterisation of the surface mass balance–elevation feedback in regional climate model simulations of the Greenland ice sheet
Edwards, T.; Fettweis, Xavier ULg; Gagliardini, O. et al

in Cryosphere (The) (2014), 8

We present a new parameterisation that relates surface mass balance (SMB: the sum of surface accumulation and surface ablation) to changes in surface elevation of the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) for the ... [more ▼]

We present a new parameterisation that relates surface mass balance (SMB: the sum of surface accumulation and surface ablation) to changes in surface elevation of the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) for the MAR (Modèle Atmosphérique Régional: Fettweis, 2007) regional climate model. The motivation is to dynamically adjust SMB as the GrIS evolves, allowing us to force ice sheet models with SMB simulated by MAR while incorporating the SMB–elevation feedback, without the substantial technical challenges of coupling ice sheet and climate models. This also allows us to assess the effect of elevation feedback uncertainty on the GrIS contribution to sea level, using multiple global climate and ice sheet models, without the need for additional, expensive MAR simulations. We estimate this relationship separately below and above the equilibrium line altitude (ELA, separating negative and positive SMB) and for regions north and south of 77° N, from a set of MAR simulations in which we alter the ice sheet surface elevation. These give four "SMB lapse rates", gradients that relate SMB changes to elevation changes. We assess uncertainties within a Bayesian framework, estimating probability distributions for each gradient from which we present best estimates and credibility intervals (CI) that bound 95% of the probability. Below the ELA our gradient estimates are mostly positive, because SMB usually increases with elevation: 0.56 (95% CI: −0.22 to 1.33) kg m−3 a−1 for the north, and 1.91 (1.03 to 2.61) kg m−3 a−1 for the south. Above the ELA, the gradients are much smaller in magnitude: 0.09 (−0.03 to 0.23) kg m−3 a−1 in the north, and 0.07 (−0.07 to 0.59) kg m−3 a−1 in the south, because SMB can either increase or decrease in response to increased elevation. [less ▲]

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See detailEvidence and analysis of 2012 Greenland records from spaceborne observations, a regional climate model and reanalysis data
Tedesco, M.; Fettweis, Xavier ULg; Mote, T. et al

in Cryosphere (The) (2013), 7

A combined analysis of remote sensing observations, regional climate model (RCM) outputs and reanalysis data over the Greenland ice sheet provides evidence that multiple records were set during summer ... [more ▼]

A combined analysis of remote sensing observations, regional climate model (RCM) outputs and reanalysis data over the Greenland ice sheet provides evidence that multiple records were set during summer 2012. Melt extent was the largest in the satellite era (extending up to ∼97% of the ice sheet) and melting lasted up to ∼2 months longer than the 1979–2011 mean. Model results indicate that near surface temperature was ∼3 standard deviations (σ) above the 1958–2011 mean, while surface mass balance (SMB) was ∼3σ below the mean and runoff was 3.9σ above the mean over the same period. Albedo, exposure of bare ice and surface mass balance also set new records, as did the total mass balance with summer and annual mass changes of, respectively, −627 Gt and −574 Gt, 2σ below the 2003–2012 mean. We identify persistent anticyclonic conditions over Greenland associated with anomalies in the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), changes in surface conditions (e.g., albedo, surface temperature) and preconditioning of surface properties from recent extreme melting as major driving mechanisms for the 2012 records. Less positive if not increasingly negative SMB will likely occur should these characteristics persist. [less ▲]

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See detailSurface mass balance model intercomparison for the Greenland ice sheet
Vernon, C.L.; Bamber, J.L.; Box, J.E. et al

in Cryosphere (The) (2013), 7

A number of high resolution reconstructions of the surface mass balance (SMB) of the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) have been produced using global re-analyses data extending back to 1958. These ... [more ▼]

A number of high resolution reconstructions of the surface mass balance (SMB) of the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) have been produced using global re-analyses data extending back to 1958. These reconstructions have been used in a variety of applications but little is known about their consistency with each other and the impact of the downscaling method on the result. Here, we compare four reconstructions for the period 1960–2008 to assess the consistency in regional, seasonal and integrated SMB components. Total SMB estimates for the GrIS are in agreement within 34% of the four model average when a common ice sheet mask is used. When models' native land/ice/sea masks are used this spread increases to 57%. Variation in the spread of components of SMB from their mean: runoff 42% (29% native masks), precipitation 20% (24% native masks), melt 38% (74% native masks), refreeze 83% (142% native masks) show, with the exception of refreeze, a similar level of agreement once a common mask is used. Previously noted differences in the models' estimates are partially explained by ice sheet mask differences. Regionally there is less agreement, suggesting spatially compensating errors improve the integrated estimates. Modelled SMB estimates are compared with in situ observations from the accumulation and ablation areas. Agreement is higher in the accumulation area than the ablation area suggesting relatively high uncertainty in the estimation of ablation processes. Since the mid-1990s each model estimates a decreasing annual SMB. A similar period of decreasing SMB is also estimated for the period 1960–1972. The earlier decrease is due to reduced precipitation with runoff remaining unchanged, however, the recent decrease is associated with increased precipitation, now more than compensated for by increased melt driven runoff. Additionally, in three of the four models the equilibrium line altitude has risen since the mid-1990s, reducing the accumulation area at a rate of approximately 60 000 km2 per decade due to increased melting. Improving process representation requires further study but the use of a single accurate ice sheet mask is a logical way to reduce uncertainty among models. [less ▲]

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See detailEstimating the Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance contribution to future sea level rise using the regional atmospheric climate model MAR
Fettweis, Xavier ULg; Franco, Bruno ULg; Tedesco, M. et al

in Cryosphere (The) (2013), 7

To estimate the sea level rise (SLR) originating from changes in surface mass balance (SMB) of the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS), we present 21st century climate projections obtained with the regional ... [more ▼]

To estimate the sea level rise (SLR) originating from changes in surface mass balance (SMB) of the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS), we present 21st century climate projections obtained with the regional climate model MAR (Modèle Atmosphérique Régional), forced by output of three CMIP5 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5) general circulation models (GCMs). Our results indicate that in a warmer climate, mass gain from increased winter snowfall over the GrIS does not compensate mass loss through increased meltwater run-off in summer. Despite the large spread in the projected near-surface warming, all the MAR projections show similar non-linear increase of GrIS surface melt volume because no change is projected in the general atmospheric circulation over Greenland. By coarsely estimating the GrIS SMB changes from GCM output, we show that the uncertainty from the GCM-based forcing represents about half of the projected SMB changes. In 2100, the CMIP5 ensemble mean projects a GrIS SMB decrease equivalent to a mean SLR of +4 ± 2 cm and +9 ± 4 cm for the RCP (Representative Concentration Pathways) 4.5 and RCP 8.5 scenarios respectively. These estimates do not consider the positive melt–elevation feedback, although sensitivity experiments using perturbed ice sheet topographies consistent with the projected SMB changes demonstrate that this is a significant feedback, and highlight the importance of coupling regional climate models to an ice sheet model. Such a coupling will allow the assessment of future response of both surface processes and ice-dynamic changes to rising temperatures, as well as their mutual feedbacks. [less ▲]

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See detailImportant role of the mid-tropospheric atmospheric circulation in the recent surface melt increase over the Greenland ice sheet
Fettweis, Xavier ULg; Hanna, Edward; Lang, Charlotte ULg et al

in Cryosphere (The) (2013), 7

Since 2007, there has been a series of surface melt records over the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS), continuing the trend towards increased melt observed since the end of the 1990's. The last two decades are ... [more ▼]

Since 2007, there has been a series of surface melt records over the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS), continuing the trend towards increased melt observed since the end of the 1990's. The last two decades are characterized by an increase of negative phases of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) favouring warmer and drier summers than normal over GrIS. In this context, we use a circulation type classification based on daily 500 hPa geopotential height to evaluate the role of atmospheric dynamics in this surface melt acceleration for the last two decades. Due to the lack of direct observations, the interannual melt variability is gauged here by the summer (June–July–August) mean temperature from reanalyses at 700 hPa over Greenland; analogous atmospheric circulations in the past show that ~70% of the 1993–2012 warming at 700 hPa over Greenland has been driven by changes in the atmospheric flow frequencies. Indeed, the occurrence of anticyclones centred over the GrIS at the surface and at 500 hPa has doubled since the end of 1990's, which induces more frequent southerly warm air advection along the western Greenland coast and over the neighbouring Canadian Arctic Archipelago (CAA). These changes in the NAO modes explain also why no significant warming has been observed these last summers over Svalbard, where northerly atmospheric flows are twice as frequent as before. Therefore, the recent warmer summers over GrIS and CAA cannot be considered as a long-term climate warming but are more a consequence of NAO variability affecting atmospheric heat transport. Although no global model from the CMIP5 database projects subsequent significant changes in NAO through this century, we cannot exclude the possibility that the observed NAO changes are due to global warming. [less ▲]

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See detailFuture projections of the Greenland ice sheet energy balance driving the surface melt
Franco, Bruno ULg; Fettweis, Xavier ULg; Erpicum, Michel ULg

in Cryosphere (The) (2013), 7

In this study, simulations at 25 km resolution are performed over the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, using the regional climate model MAR forced by four RCP scenarios ... [more ▼]

In this study, simulations at 25 km resolution are performed over the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, using the regional climate model MAR forced by four RCP scenarios from three CMIP5 global circulation models (GCMs), in order to investigate the projected changes of the surface energy balance (SEB) components driving the surface melt. Analysis of 2000–2100 melt anomalies compared to melt results over 1980–1999 reveals an exponential relationship of the GrIS surface melt rate simulated by MAR to the near-surface air temperature (TAS) anomalies, mainly due to the surface albedo positive feedback associated with the extension of bare ice areas in summer. On the GrIS margins, the future melt anomalies are preferentially driven by stronger sensible heat fluxes, induced by enhanced warm air advection over the ice sheet. Over the central dry snow zone, the surface albedo positive feedback induced by the increase in summer melt exceeds the negative feedback of heavier snowfall for TAS anomalies higher than 4 °C. In addition to the incoming longwave flux increase associated with the atmosphere warming, GCM-forced MAR simulations project an increase of the cloud cover decreasing the ratio of the incoming shortwave versus longwave radiation and dampening the albedo feedback. However, it should be noted that this trend in the cloud cover is contrary to that simulated by ERA-Interim–forced MAR for recent climate conditions, where the observed melt increase since the 1990s seems mainly to be a consequence of more anticyclonic atmospheric conditions. Finally, no significant change is projected in the length of the melt season, which highlights the importance of solar radiation absorbed by the ice sheet surface in the melt SEB. [less ▲]

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See detailAn updated and quality controlled surface mass balance dataset for Antarctica
Favier, Vincent; Agosta, Cécile ULg; Parouty, Soazig et al

in Cryosphere (The) (2013), 7

We present an updated and quality controlled surface mass balance (SMB) database for the Antarctic ice sheet. We retrieved a total of 5284 SMB data documented with important meta-data, to which a filter ... [more ▼]

We present an updated and quality controlled surface mass balance (SMB) database for the Antarctic ice sheet. We retrieved a total of 5284 SMB data documented with important meta-data, to which a filter was applied to discard data with limited spatial and temporal representativeness, too small measurement accuracy, or lack of quality control. A total of 3438 reliable data was obtained, which is about four times more than by applying the same data filtering process to previously available databases. New important data with high spatial resolution are now available over long traverses, and at low elevation in some areas. However, the quality control led to a considerable reduction in the spatial density of data in several regions, particularly over West Antarctica. Over interior plateaus, where the SMB is low, the spatial density of mea- surements remained high. This quality controlled dataset was compared to results from ERA-Interim reanalysis to assess model representativeness over Antarctica, and also to identify large areas where data gaps impede model validation. Except for very few areas (e.g. Adelie Land), the elevation range between 200 m and 1000 m a.s.l. is not correctly sampled in the field, and measurements do not allow a thorough validation of models in regions with complex topography, where the highest scattering of SMB values is reported. Clearly, increasing the spatial density of field measurements at low elevations, in the Antarctic Peninsula and in West Antarctica remains a scientific priority. [less ▲]

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See detailGreenland ice sheet surface mass balance: evaluating simulations and making projections with regional climate models
Rae, J.; Aðalgeirsdóttir, G.; Edwards, T. et al

in Cryosphere (The) (2012), 6

Four high-resolution regional climate models (RCMs) have been set up for the area of Greenland, with the aim of providing future projections of Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance (SMB), and its ... [more ▼]

Four high-resolution regional climate models (RCMs) have been set up for the area of Greenland, with the aim of providing future projections of Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance (SMB), and its contribution to sea level rise, with greater accuracy than is possible from coarser-resolution general circulation models (GCMs). This is the first time an intercomparison has been carried out of RCM results for Greenland climate and SMB. Output from RCM simulations for the recent past with the four RCMs is evaluated against available observations. The evaluation highlights the importance of using a detailed snow physics scheme, especially regarding the representations of albedo and meltwater refreezing. Simulations with three of the RCMs for the 21st century using SRES scenario A1B from two GCMs produce trends of between −5.5 and −1.1 Gt yr−2 in SMB (equivalent to +0.015 and +0.003 mm sea level equivalent yr−2), with trends of smaller magnitude for scenario E1, in which emissions are mitigated. Results from one of the RCMs whose present-day simulation is most realistic indicate that an annual mean near-surface air temperature increase over Greenland of ~ 2°C would be required for the mass loss to increase such that it exceeds accumulation, thereby causing the SMB to become negative, which has been suggested as a threshold beyond which the ice sheet would eventually be eliminated. [less ▲]

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See detailSensitivity of a Greenland ice sheet model to atmospheric forcing fields
Quiquet, A.; Punge, H.; Ritz, C. et al

in Cryosphere (The) (2012), 6

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 ... [more ▼]

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). [less ▲]

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See detailGreenland ice sheet albedo feedback: thermodynamics and atmospheric drivers
Box, J.; Fettweis, Xavier ULg; Stroeve, J. et al

in Cryosphere (The) (2012), 6

In this study, snowpack scenarios are modelled across the French Alps using dynamically downscaled variables from the ALADIN Regional Climate Model (RCM) for the control period (1961–1990) and three ... [more ▼]

In this study, snowpack scenarios are modelled across the French Alps using dynamically downscaled variables from the ALADIN Regional Climate Model (RCM) for the control period (1961–1990) and three emission scenarios (SRES B1, A1B and A2) for the mid- and late 21st century (2021–2050 and 2071–2100). These variables are statistically adapted to the different elevations, aspects and slopes of the Alpine massifs. For this purpose, we use a simple analogue criterion with ERA40 series as well as an existing detailed climatology of the French Alps (Durand et al., 2009a) that provides complete meteorological fields from the SAFRAN analysis model. The resulting scenarios of precipitation, temperature, wind, cloudiness, longwave and shortwave radiation, and humidity are used to run the physical snow model CROCUS and simulate snowpack evolution over the massifs studied. The seasonal and regional characteristics of the simulated climate and snow cover changes are explored, as is the influence of the scenarios on these changes. Preliminary results suggest that the snow water equivalent (SWE) of the snowpack will decrease dramatically in the next century, especially in the Southern and Extreme Southern parts of the Alps. This decrease seems to result primarily from a general warming throughout the year, and possibly a deficit of precipitation in the autumn. The magnitude of the snow cover decline follows a marked altitudinal gradient, with the highest altitudes being less exposed to climate change. Scenario A2, with its high concentrations of greenhouse gases, results in a SWE reduction roughly twice as large as in the low-emission scenario B1 by the end of the century. This study needs to be completed using simulations from other RCMs, since a multi-model approach is essential for uncertainty analysis. [less ▲]

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See detailRefreezing on the Greenland ice sheet: a comparison of parameterizations
Reijmer, C.; van den Broeke, M.; Fettweis, Xavier ULg et al

in Cryosphere (The) (2012), 6

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 ... [more ▼]

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. [less ▲]

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See detailImpact of spatial resolution on the modelling of the Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance between 1990–2010, using the regional climate model MAR
Franco, Bruno ULg; Fettweis, Xavier ULg; Lang, Charlotte et al

in Cryosphere (The) (2012), 6

With the aim to force an ice dynamical model, the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) surface mass balance (SMB) was modelled at different spatial resolutions (15-50 km) for the period 1990-2010, using the ... [more ▼]

With the aim to force an ice dynamical model, the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) surface mass balance (SMB) was modelled at different spatial resolutions (15-50 km) for the period 1990-2010, using the regional climate model MAR (Modèle Atmosphérique Régional) forced by the ERA-INTERIM reanalysis. This comparison revealed that (i) the inter-annual variability of the SMB components is consistent within the different spatial resolutions investigated, (ii) the MAR model simulates heavier precipitation on average over the GrIS with diminishing spatial resolution, and (iii) the SMB components (except precipitation) can be derived from a simulation at lower resolution with an intelligent interpolation. This interpolation can also be used to approximate the SMB components over another topography/ice sheet mask of the GrIS. These results are important for the forcing of an ice dynamical model, needed to enable future projections of the GrIS contribution to sea level rise over the coming centuries. [less ▲]

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