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Higher surface mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet revealed by high-resolution climate modeling

  • Author(s): Ettema, J
  • Van Den Broeke, MR
  • Van Meijgaard, E
  • Van De Berg, WJ
  • Bamber, JL
  • Box, JE
  • Bales, RC
  • et al.
Abstract

High-resolution (∼11 km) regional climate modeling shows total annual precipitation on the Greenland ice sheet for 1958-2007 to be up to 24% and surface mass balance up to 63% higher than previously thought. The largest differences occur in coastal southeast Greenland, where the much higher resolution facilitates capturing snow accumulation peaks that past five-fold coarser resolution regional climate models missed. The surface mass balance trend over the full 1958-2007 period reveals the classic pattern expected in a warming climate, with increased snowfall in the interior and enhanced runoff from the marginal ablation zone. In the period 1990-2007, total runoff increased significantly, 3% per year. The absolute increase in runoff is especially pronounced in the southeast, where several outlet glaciers have recently accelerated. This detailed knowledge of Greenland's surface mass balance provides the foundation for estimating and predicting the overall mass balance and freshwater discharge of the ice sheet. Copyright 2009 by the American Geophysical Union.

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