Dependence of century-scale projections of the Greenland ice sheet on its thermal regime

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. Observations show that the Greenland ice sheet has been losing mass at an increasing rate over the past few decades, which makes it a major contributor to sea-level rise. Here we use a three-dimensional higher-order ice-flow model, adaptive mesh refinement and inverse methods to accurately reproduce the present-day ice flow of the Greenland ice sheet. We investigate the effect of the ice thermal regime on (1) basal sliding inversion and (2) projections over the next 100 years. We show that steady-state temperatures based on present-day conditions allow a reasonable representation of the thermal regime and that both basal conditions and century-scale projections are weakly sensitive to small changes in the initial temperature field, compared with changes in atmospheric conditions or basal sliding. We conclude that although more englacial temperature measurements should be acquired to validate the models, and a better estimation of geothermal heat flux is needed, it is reasonable to use steady-state temperature profiles for short-term projections, as external forcings remain the main drivers of the changes occurring in Greenland.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2013

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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