Modelling the Climate - Greenland Ice Sheet Interaction in the Coupled Ice-sheet/Climate Model EC-EARTH – PISM

Friday, 19 December 2014
Shuting Yang1, Marianne S. Madsen1, Christian B Rodehacke1, Synne H. Svendsen1 and Gudfinna Adalgeirsdottir2, (1)Danish Meteorological Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark, (2)University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland
Recent observations show that the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) has been losing mass with an increasing speed during the past decades. Predicting the GrIS changes and their climate consequences relies on the understanding of the interaction of the GrIS with the climate system on both global and local scales, and requires climate model systems with an explicit and physically consistent ice sheet module.

A fully coupled global climate model with a dynamical ice sheet model for the GrIS has recently been developed. The model system, EC-EARTH – PISM, consists of the EC-EARTH, an atmosphere, ocean and sea ice model system, and the Parallel Ice Sheet Model (PISM). The coupling of PISM includes a modified surface physical parameterization in EC-EARTH adapted to the land ice surface over glaciated regions in Greenland. The PISM ice sheet model is forced with the surface mass balance (SMB) directly computed inside the EC-EARTH atmospheric module and accounting for the precipitation, the surface evaporation, and the melting of snow and ice over land ice. PISM returns the simulated basal melt, ice discharge and ice cover (extent and thickness) as boundary conditions to EC-EARTH. This coupled system is mass and energy conserving without being constrained by any anomaly correction or flux adjustment, and hence is suitable for investigation of ice sheet – climate feedbacks.

Three multi-century experiments for warm climate scenarios under (1) the RCP85 climate forcing, (2) an abrupt 4xCO2 and (3) an idealized 1% per year CO2 increase are performed using the coupled model system. The experiments are compared with their counterparts of the standard CMIP5 simulations (without the interactive ice sheet) to evaluate the performance of the coupled system and to quantify the GrIS feedbacks. In particular, the evolution of the Greenland ice sheet under the warm climate and its impacts on the climate system are investigated. Freshwater fluxes from the Greenland ice sheet melt to the Arctic and North Atlantic basin and their influence on the ocean stratification and ocean circulation are analysed. The changes in the surface climate and the atmospheric circulation associated with the impact of the Greenland ice sheet changes are quantified. The interaction between the Greenland ice sheet and Arctic sea ice is also examined.