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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  10 Aug 2020

10 Aug 2020

Review status
This preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Analysis of the Surface Mass Balance for Deglacial Climate Simulations

Marie-Luise Kapsch1, Uwe Mikolajewicz1, Florian Andreas Ziemen1,a, Christian B. Rodehacke2,3, and Clemens Schannwell1 Marie-Luise Kapsch et al.
  • 1Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Bundesstraße 53, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
  • 2Danish Meteorological Institute, Lyngbyvej 100, 2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark
  • 3Alfred Wegener Institut, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Am Handelshafen 12, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
  • anow at: Deutsches Klimarechenzentrum, Bundesstr. 45a, 20146 Hamburg, Germany

Abstract. Most studies analyzing changes in the surface mass balance (SMB) of the Greenland ice sheet are limited to the last century, due to the availability of observations and the computational limitations of regional climate modeling. Using transient simulations with a comprehensive Earth System Model (ESM) we extend previous research and study changes in the SMB and equilibrium line altitude (ELA) for deglacial climate conditions. An energy balance model (EBM) is used to downscale atmospheric processes. It determines the SMB on higher spatial resolution and allows to resolve SMB variations due to topographic gradients not resolved by the ESM. An evaluation for historical climate conditions (1980–2010) shows that derived SMBs compare well with SMBs from regional modeling. Throughout the deglaciation changes in insolation dominate the Greenland SMB: 1) The increase in insolation and associated warming early in the deglaciation result in an ELA and SMB increase. The SMB increase is caused by compensating effects of melt and accumulation, as a warmer atmosphere precipitates more. After 13 ka before present (BP) melt begins to dominate and the SMB decreases. 2) The decline in insolation after 9 ka BP leads to an increasing SMB and decreasing ELA. Superimposed on these long-term changes are episodes of significant SMB/ELA decreases, related to slowdowns of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) that lead to cooling over most of the Northern Hemisphere. To study associated changes in the ice sheet geometry, the SMB data set is made available to the ice sheet modeling community.

Marie-Luise Kapsch et al.

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Marie-Luise Kapsch et al.

Marie-Luise Kapsch et al.


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