Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-140
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-140

  20 May 2021

20 May 2021

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

Uncertainties in projected surface mass balance over the polar ice sheets from downscaled EC-Earth models

Fredrik Boberg1, Ruth Mottram1, Nicolaj Hansen1,2, Shuting Yang1, and Peter L. Langen3 Fredrik Boberg et al.
  • 1Danish Meteorological Institute, Copenhagen Ø, DK-2100, Denmark
  • 2National Space Institute, Kongens Lyngby, DK-2800, Denmark
  • 3iClimate, Department of Environmental Science, Aarhus University, Roskilde, DK-4000, Denmark

Abstract. The future rates of ice sheet melt in Greenland and Antarctica are an important factor when making estimates of the likely rate of sea level rise. Global climate models that took part in the fifth Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) have generally been unable to replicate observed rates of ice sheet melt. With the advent of the sixth Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6), with a general increase in the equilibrium climate sensitivity, we here compare two versions of the global climate model EC-Earth using the regional climate model HIRHAM5 downscaling EC-Earth for Greenland and Antarctica. One version (v2) of EC-Earth is taken from CMIP5 for the high-emissions Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP8.5) scenario and the other (v3) from CMIP6 for the comparable high-emissions Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSP5-8.5) scenario). For Greenland, we downscale the two versions of EC-Earth for the historical period 1991–2010 and for the scenario period 2081–2100. For Antarctica, the periods are 1971–2000 and 2071–2100, respectively. For the Greenland Ice Sheet, we find that the mean change in temperature is 5.9 °C when downscaling EC-Earth v2 and 6.8 °C when downscaling EC-Earth v3. Corresponding values for Antarctica are 4.1 °C for v2 and 4.8 °C for v3. The mean change in surface mass balance at the end of the century under these high emissions scenarios is found to be −210 Gt yr−1 (v2) and −1150 Gt yr−1 (v3) for Greenland and 420 Gt yr−1 (v2) and 80 Gt yr−1 (v3) for Antarctica. These distinct differences in temperature change and particularly surface mass balance change are a result of the higher equilibrium climate sensitivity in EC-Earth v3 (4.3 K) compared with 3.3 K in EC-Earth v2 and the differences in greenhouse gas concentrations between the RCP8.5 and the SSP5-8.5 scenarios.

Fredrik Boberg et al.

Status: open (until 15 Jul 2021)

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Fredrik Boberg et al.

Fredrik Boberg et al.

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Short summary
Using the regional climate model HIRHAM5, we compare two versions (v2 and v3) of the global climate model EC-Earth for the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets. We are interested in the surface mass balance of the ice sheets due to its importance when making estimates of the future sea level rise. We find that the end-of-century change of the surface mass balance for Antarctica is 420 Gt yr−1 (v2) and 80 Gt yr−1 (v3) and for Greenland it is −210 Gt yr−1 (v2) and −1150 Gt yr−1 (v3).