On the response of the Greenland ice sheet to greenhouse climate change



Numerical computations are performed with the three-dimensional polythermal ice-sheet model SICOPOLIS in order to investigate the possible impact of a greenhouse-gas-induced climate change on the Greenland ice sheet. The assumed increase of the mean annual air temperature above the ice covers a range from Delta T = 1 deg C to 12 deg C, and several parameterizations for the snowfall and the surface melting are considered. The simulated shrinking of the ice sheet is a smooth function of the temperature rise, indications for the existence of critical thresholds of the climate input are not found. Within 1000 model years, the ice-volume decrease is limited to 10% of the present volume for Delta T ≤ 3 deg C, whereas the most extreme scenario, Delta T = 12 deg C, leads to an almost entire disintegration, which corresponds to a sea-level equivalent of 7 m. The different snowfall and melting parameterizations yield an uncertainty range of up to 20% of the present ice volume after 1000 model years.

Climatic Change, 46, 289-303 (2000).

Last modified: 2008-09-05