Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-128
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-128

  18 May 2021

18 May 2021

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

Sources of Uncertainty in Greenland Surface Mass Balance in the 21st century

Katharina M. Holube1,a, Tobias Zolles1,2, and Andreas Born1,2 Katharina M. Holube et al.
  • 1Department of Earth Science, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
  • 2Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
  • anow at: Meteorological Institute, Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

Abstract. The surface mass balance (SMB) of the Greenland Ice Sheet is subject to considerable uncertainties that complicate predictions of sea level rise caused by climate change. We examine the SMB of the Greenland Ice Sheet in the 21st century with the surface energy and mass balance model BESSI. To estimate the uncertainty of the SMB, we conduct simulations for four greenhouse gas emission scenarios using the output of a wide range of climate models from the sixth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6) to force BESSI. In addition, the uncertainty of the SMB simulation is estimated by using 16 different parameter sets in our SMB model. The median SMB across climate models and parameter sets, integrated over the ice sheet, decreases over time for every emission scenario. As expected, the decrease in SMB is stronger for higher greenhouse gas emissions. The regional distribution of the resulting SMB shows the most substantial SMB decrease in western Greenland for all climate models, whereas the differences between the climate models are most pronounced in the north and in the area around the equilibrium line. Temperature and precipitation are the input variables of the snow model that have the largest influence on the SMB and the largest differences between climate models. In our ensemble, the range of uncertainty in the SMB is greater than in other studies that used fewer climate models as forcing. An analysis of the different sources of uncertainty shows that the uncertainty caused by the different climate models for a given scenario is larger than the uncertainty caused by the climate scenarios. In comparison, the uncertainty caused by the snow model parameters is negligible, leaving the uncertainty of the climate models as the main reason for SMB uncertainty.

Katharina M. Holube et al.

Status: open (until 13 Jul 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

Katharina M. Holube et al.

Katharina M. Holube et al.

Viewed

Total article views: 285 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)
HTML PDF XML Total BibTeX EndNote
217 63 5 285 4 3
  • HTML: 217
  • PDF: 63
  • XML: 5
  • Total: 285
  • BibTeX: 4
  • EndNote: 3
Views and downloads (calculated since 18 May 2021)
Cumulative views and downloads (calculated since 18 May 2021)

Viewed (geographical distribution)

Total article views: 273 (including HTML, PDF, and XML) Thereof 273 with geography defined and 0 with unknown origin.
Country # Views %
  • 1
1
 
 
 
 
Latest update: 15 Jun 2021
Download
Short summary
We simulated the surface mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet in the 21st century by forcing a snow model with the output of many global climate models and four greenhouse gas emission scenarios. We quantify the contribution to uncertainty in surface mass balance of these two factors and the choice of parameters of the snow model. The results show that the differences between climate models are the main source of uncertainty. This effect is localised mostly near the equlilibrium line.