Impact of model physics on estimating the surface mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet

M Bougamont, JL Bamber, JK Ridley, RM Gladstone, W Grueull, E Hanna, AJ Payne, IC Rutt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Long-term predictions of sea level rise from increased Greenland ice sheet melting have been derived using Positive Degree Day models only. It is, however, unknown precisely what uncertainties are associated with applying this simple surface melt parameterization for future climate. We compare the behavior of a Positive Degree Day and Energy Balance/Snowpack model for estimating the surface mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet under a warming climate. Both models were first tuned to give similar values for present-day mass balance using 10 years of ERA-40 climatology and were then run for 300 years, forced with the output of a GCM in which atmospheric CO2 increased to 4 times preindustrial levels. Results indicate that the Positive Degree Day model is more sensitive to climate warming than the Energy Balance model, generating annual runoff rates almost twice as large for a fixed ice sheet geometry. Roughly half of this difference was due to differences in the volume of melt generated and half was due to differences in refreezing rates in the snowpack. Our results indicate that the modeled snowpack properties evolve on a multidecadal timescale to changing climate, with a potentially large impact on the mass balance of the ice sheet; an evolution that was absent from the Positive Degree Day model.
Translated title of the contributionImpact of model physics on estimating the surface mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 5
Number of pages5
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume34 (L17501)
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2007

Bibliographical note

Publisher: American Geophysical Union

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