SEMIC: an efficient surface energy and mass balance model applied to the Greenland ice sheet
- 1Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), P.O. Box 60 12 03, 14412 Potsdam, Germany
- 2Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK
- 3Departamento de Astrofísica y Ciencias de la Atmósfera, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain
Abstract. We present SEMIC, a Surface Energy and Mass balance model of Intermediate Complexity for snow- and ice-covered surfaces such as the Greenland ice sheet. SEMIC is fast enough for glacial cycle applications, making it a suitable replacement for simpler methods such as the positive degree day (PDD) method often used in ice sheet modelling. Our model explicitly calculates the main processes involved in the surface energy and mass balance, while maintaining a simple interface and requiring minimal data input to drive it. In this novel approach, we parameterise diurnal temperature variations in order to more realistically capture the daily thaw–freeze cycles that characterise the ice sheet mass balance. We show how to derive optimal model parameters for SEMIC specifically to reproduce surface characteristics and day-to-day variations similar to the regional climate model MAR (Modèle Atmosphérique Régional, version 2) and its incorporated multilayer snowpack model SISVAT (Soil Ice Snow Vegetation Atmosphere Transfer). A validation test shows that SEMIC simulates future changes in surface temperature and surface mass balance in good agreement with the more sophisticated multilayer snowpack model SISVAT included in MAR. With this paper, we present a physically based surface model to the ice sheet modelling community that is general enough to be used with in situ observations, climate model, or reanalysis data, and that is at the same time computationally fast enough for long-term integrations, such as glacial cycles or future climate change scenarios.