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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Regional Grid Refinement in an Earth System Model: Impacts on the Simulated Greenland Surface Mass Balance


Abstract. In this study, the resolution dependence of the simulated Greenland Ice Sheet surface mass balance in the variable-resolution Community Earth System Model (VR-CESM) is investigated. Coupled atmosphere-land simulations are performed on three regionally refined grids over Greenland at 1° (~111 km), 0.5°(~55 km), and 0.25° (~28 km), maintaining a quasi-uniform resolution of 1° (~111 km) over the rest of the globe. The SMB in the accumulation zone is significantly improved compared to airborne radar and in-situ observations, with a general wetting at the margins and a drying in the interior GrIS. Total precipitation decreases with resolution, which is in line with best-available regional climate model results. In the ablation zone, VR-CESM starts developing a positive SMB bias in some locations. Potential driving mechanisms are proposed, amongst which are diversions in large scale circulation, changes in cloud cover, and changes in summer snowfall. Overall, our results demonstrate that VR-CESM is a viable new tool in the cryospheric sciences and can be used to dynamically downscale future scenarios and/or be interactively coupled to dynamical ice sheet models.

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