138 research outputs found

    Trends in Antarctic Peninsula surface melting conditions from observations and regional climate modeling

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    Multidecadal meteorological station records and microwave backscatter time-series from the SeaWinds scatterometer onboard QuikSCAT (QSCAT) were used to calculate temporal and spatial trends in surface melting conditions on the Antarctic Peninsula (AP). Four of six long-term station records showed strongly positive and statistically significant trends in duration of melting conditions, including a 95% increase in the average annual positive degree day sum (PDD) at Faraday/Vernadsky, since 1948. A validated, threshold-based melt detection method was employed to derive detailed melt season onset, extent, and duration climatologies on the AP from enhanced resolution QSCAT data during 1999–2009. Austral summer melt on the AP was linked to regional- and synoptic-scale atmospheric variability by respectively correlating melt season onset and extent with November near-surface air temperatures and the October–January averaged index of the Southern Hemisphere Annular Mode (SAM). The spatial pattern, magnitude, and interannual variability of AP melt from observations was closely reproduced by simulations of the regional model RACMO2. Local discrepancies between observations and model simulations were likely a result of the QSCAT response to, and RACMO2 treatment of, ponded surface water, and the relatively crude representation of coastal climate in the 27 km RACMO2 grid

    Exploration of Antarctic Ice Sheet 100-year contribution to sea level rise and associated model uncertainties using the ISSM framework

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    Estimating the future evolution of the Antarctic Ice Sheet (AIS) is critical for improving future sea level rise (SLR) projections. Numerical ice sheet models are invaluable tools for bounding Antarctic vulnerability; yet, few continental-scale projections of century-scale AIS SLR contribution exist, and those that do vary by up to an order of magnitude. This is partly because model projections of future sea level are inherently uncertain and depend largely on the model's boundary conditions and climate forcing, which themselves are unknown due to the uncertainty in the projections of future anthropogenic emissions and subsequent climate response. Here, we aim to improve the understanding of how uncertainties in model forcing and boundary conditions affect ice sheet model simulations. With use of sampling techniques embedded within the Ice Sheet System Model (ISSM) framework, we assess how uncertainties in snow accumulation, ocean-induced melting, ice viscosity, basal friction, bedrock elevation, and the presence of ice shelves impact continental-scale 100-year model simulations of AIS future sea level contribution. Overall, we find that AIS sea level contribution is strongly affected by grounding line retreat, which is driven by the magnitude of ice shelf basal melt rates and by variations in bedrock topography. In addition, we find that over 1.2&thinsp;m of AIS global mean sea level contribution over the next century is achievable, but not likely, as it is tenable only in response to unrealistically large melt rates and continental ice shelf collapse. Regionally, we find that under our most extreme 100-year warming experiment generalized for the entire ice sheet, the Amundsen Sea sector is the most significant source of model uncertainty (1032&thinsp;mm 6σ spread) and the region with the largest potential for future sea level contribution (297&thinsp;mm). In contrast, under a more plausible forcing informed regionally by literature and model sensitivity studies, the Ronne basin has a greater potential for local increases in ice shelf basal melt rates. As a result, under this more likely realization, where warm waters reach the continental shelf under the Ronne ice shelf, it is the Ronne basin, particularly the Evans and Rutford ice streams, that are the greatest contributors to potential SLR (161&thinsp;mm) and to simulation uncertainty (420&thinsp;mm 6σ spread).</p

    Algae Drive Enhanced Darkening of Bare Ice on the Greenland Ice Sheet

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    Surface ablation of the Greenland ice sheet is amplified by surface darkening caused by light-absorbing impurities such as mineral dust, black carbon, and pigmented microbial cells. We present the first quantitative assessment of the microbial contribution to the ice sheet surface darkening, based on field measurements of surface reflectance and concentrations of light-absorbing impurities, including pigmented algae, during the 2014 melt season in the southwestern part of the ice sheet. The impact of algae on bare ice darkening in the study area was greater than that of nonalgal impurities and yielded a net albedo reduction of 0.038&nbsp;±&nbsp;0.0035 for each algal population doubling. We argue that algal growth is a crucial control of bare ice darkening, and incorporating the algal darkening effect will improve mass balance and sea level projections of the Greenland ice sheet and ice masses elsewhere

    Regional Antarctic snow accumulation over the past 1000 years

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    Here we present Antarctic snow accumulation variability at the regional scale over the past 1000 years. A total of 79 ice core snow accumulation records were gathered and assigned to seven geographical regions, separating the high-accumulation coastal zones below 2000 m of elevation from the dry central Antarctic Plateau. The regional composites of annual snow accumulation were evaluated against modelled surface mass balance (SMB) from RACMO2.3p2 and precipitation from ERA-Interim reanalysis. With the exception of the Weddell Sea coast, the low-elevation composites capture the regional precipitation and SMB variability as defined by the models. The central Antarctic sites lack coherency and either do not represent regional precipitation or indicate the model inability to capture relevant precipitation processes in the cold, dry central plateau. Our results show that SMB for the total Antarctic Ice Sheet (including ice shelves) has increased at a rate of 7 ± 0.13 Gt decadeg 1 since 1800 AD, representing a net reduction in sea level of â\u88¼ 0.02 mm decadeg 1 since 1800 and â\u88¼ 0.04 mm decadeg 1 since 1900 AD. The largest contribution is from the Antarctic Peninsula (â\u88¼ 75 %) where the annual average SMB during the most recent decade (2001-2010) is 123 ± 44 Gt yrg 1 higher than the annual average during the first decade of the 19th century. Only four ice core records cover the full 1000 years, and they suggest a decrease in snow accumulation during this period. However, our study emphasizes the importance of low-elevation coastal zones, which have been under-represented in previous investigations of temporal snow accumulation

    Greenland ice sheet surface mass loss: recent developments in observation and modeling

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    Surface processes currently dominate Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) mass loss. We review recent developments in the observation and modelling of GrIS surface mass balance (SMB), published after the July 2012 deadline for the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR5). Since IPCC AR5 our understanding of GrIS SMB has further improved, but new observational and model studies have also revealed that temporal and spatial variability of many processes are still poorly quantified and understood, e.g. bio-albedo, the formation of ice lenses and their impact on lateral meltwater transport, heterogeneous vertical meltwater transport (‘piping’), the impact of atmospheric circulation changes and mixed-phase clouds on the surface energy balance and the magnitude of turbulent heat exchange over rough ice surfaces. As a result, these processes are only schematically or not at all included in models that are currently used to assess and predict future GrIS surface mass loss

    Verification of model simulated mass balance, flow fields and tabular calving events of the Antarctic ice sheet against remotely sensed observations

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    The Antarctic ice sheet (AIS) has the greatestpotential for global sea level rise. This study simulates AISice creeping, sliding, tabular calving, and estimates the totalmass balances, using a recently developed, advanced icedynamics model, known as SEGMENT-Ice. SEGMENTIceis written in a spherical Earth coordinate system.Because the AIS contains the South Pole, a projectiontransfer is performed to displace the pole outside of thesimulation domain. The AIS also has complex ice-watergranularmaterial-bedrock configurations, requiringsophisticated lateral and basal boundary conditions.Because of the prevalence of ice shelves, a ‘girder yield’type calving scheme is activated. The simulations of presentsurface ice flow velocities compare favorably with InSARmeasurements, for various ice-water-bedrock configurations.The estimated ice mass loss rate during 2003–2009agrees with GRACE measurements and provides morespatial details not represented by the latter. The modelestimated calving frequencies of the peripheral ice shelvesfrom 1996 (roughly when the 5-km digital elevation andthickness data for the shelves were collected) to 2009compare well with archived scatterometer images. SEGMENT-Ice’s unique, non-local systematic calving schemeis found to be relevant for tabular calving. However, theexact timing of calving and of iceberg sizes cannot besimulated accurately at present. A projection of the futuremass change of the AIS is made, with SEGMENT-Iceforced by atmospheric conditions from three differentcoupled general circulation models. The entire AIS is estimatedto be losing mass steadily at a rate of*120 km3/a atpresent and this rate possibly may double by year 2100
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