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Continental Ice Sheets and the Planetary Radiation Budget

By J. Oerlemans


The interaction between continental ice sheets and the planetary radiation budget is potentially important in climate-sensitivity studies. A simple ice-sheet model incorporated in an energybalance climate model provides a tool for studying this interaction in a quantitative way. Experiments in which the ice-sheet model is coupled step by step to the climate model show that ice sheets hardly affect the zonal mean radiation balance because the albedo feedback due to sea ice and snow cover is dominating. The model requires a 5% drop in the solar constant to create ice sheets of\ud ice-age size. If the feedback between surface elevation and ice-mass balance is included (in a very crude way), the ice-sheet size (L, measured southward from 70”N) becomes much more sensitive to in insolation.\ud For a range of normalized solar constants, roughly from 0.98 to 1.02, two stable solutions exist: L = 0 and L = 2000 km. This result demonstrates that the response of ice sheets to insolation variations is far from linear. It also stresses the need for explicit modeling of the ice-mass balance of ice sheets, particularly its dependence on surface elevation

Topics: Natuur- en Sterrenkunde
Year: 1980
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