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Coupling of climate models and ice sheet models by surface mass balance gradients: application to the Greenland Ice Sheet

Helsen, M.M.; van de Wal, R.S.W.; van den Broeke, M.R.; van de Berg, W.J.; Oerlemans, J.. 2012 Coupling of climate models and ice sheet models by surface mass balance gradients: application to the Greenland Ice Sheet. The Cryosphere, 6 (2). 255-272. 10.5194/tc-6-255-2012

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Abstract/Summary

It is notoriously difficult to couple surface mass balance (SMB) results from climate models to the changing geometry of an ice sheet model. This problem is traditionally avoided by using only accumulation from a climate model, and parameterizing the meltwater run-off as a function of temperature, which is often related to surface elevation (Hs). In this study, we propose a new strategy to calculate SMB, to allow a direct adjustment of SMB to a change in ice sheet topography and/or a change in climate forcing. This method is based on elevational gradients in the SMB field as computed by a regional climate model. Separate linear relations are derived for ablation and accumulation, using pairs of Hs and SMB within a minimum search radius. The continuously adjusting SMB forcing is consistent with climate model forcing fields, also for initially non-glaciated areas in the peripheral areas of an ice sheet. When applied to an asynchronous coupled ice sheet – climate model setup, this method circumvents traditional temperature lapse rate assumptions. Here we apply it to the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS). Experiments using both steady-state forcing and glacial-interglacial forcing result in realistic ice sheet reconstructions.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.5194/tc-6-255-2012
Programmes: BAS Programmes > EU:Ice2Sea
ISSN: 1994-0424
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open access paper
Date made live: 20 Dec 2012 13:44 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/20869

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