Articles | Volume 4, issue 2
07 Apr 2010
 | 07 Apr 2010

An efficient regional energy-moisture balance model for simulation of the Greenland Ice Sheet response to climate change

A. Robinson, R. Calov, and A. Ganopolski

Abstract. In order to explore the response of the Greenland ice sheet (GIS) to climate change on long (centennial to multi-millennial) time scales, a regional energy-moisture balance model has been developed. This model simulates seasonal variations of temperature and precipitation over Greenland and explicitly accounts for elevation and albedo feedbacks. From these fields, the annual mean surface temperature and surface mass balance can be determined and used to force an ice sheet model. The melt component of the surface mass balance is computed here using both a positive degree day approach and a more physically-based alternative that includes insolation and albedo explicitly. As a validation of the climate model, we first simulated temperature and precipitation over Greenland for the prescribed, present-day topography. Our simulated climatology compares well to observations and does not differ significantly from that of a simple parameterization used in many previous simulations. Furthermore, the calculated surface mass balance using both melt schemes falls within the range of recent regional climate model results. For a prescribed, ice-free state, the differences in simulated climatology between the regional energy-moisture balance model and the simple parameterization become significant, with our model showing much stronger summer warming. When coupled to a three-dimensional ice sheet model and initialized with present-day conditions, the two melt schemes both allow realistic simulations of the present-day GIS.

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