ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201810.0337.v1
Subject: Earth Sciences, Geophysics Keywords: essential climate variables (ECV); climate change initiative (CCI); Greenland ice sheet; mass budget; cryosphere; sea level rise
Online: 16 October 2018 (07:53:22 CEST)
The Greenland ice sheet is a major contributor to sea level rise, adding an estimated 0.47 +/− 0.23 mm/yr to global mean sea level between 1991 and 2015 (van den Broeke et al., 2016). Making sea level rise projections for the future and understanding the processes controlling current observed rates of sea level rise are crucially dependent on understanding the present-day state of the ice sheet. Here, we provide an overview of the current state of the mass budget of Greenland based on satellite gravimetry and remote sensing observations of surface elevation change, ice sheet velocity and calving front positions. We also combine these essential climate variables with a regional climate model (RCM) output from an ice sheet model (ISM) to gain insight into poorly understood ice sheet dynamical and surface mass processes. On average from 1992 to 2017 the ice sheet in some locations has lost up −2.65 m/yr in elevation based on ESA Radar altimetry analysis. Calving fronts have retreated all around Greenland since the 1990s and in only two out of 28 study locations have they remained stable. The locations of grounding lines at 5 key glaciers with floating ice tongues have remained stable over the observation period. However a detailed case study at Petermann glacier with an ice fracture model shows the sensitivity of these floating ice shelves to future climate change. GRACE gravimetric mass balance (GMB) data allows us to tie together disparate lines of evidence showing that Greenland has lost about 265 +/− 25 Gt/yr of ice over the period 2002 to 2015. RCM and ISM simulations show that surface mass processes dominate the overall Greenland ice sheet mass budget except for areas of fast ice sheet flow but marked differences between models and between models and observations indicate that not all processes are captured accurately, indicating areas of greater uncertainty and directions of future research for future sea level rise projections.