Projecting the response of the Greenland ice sheet to future climate change with the ice sheet model SICOPOLIS



Numerical modelling has become established as an important tool for understanding ice sheet dynamics in general, and in particular for assessing the contribution of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to future sea level change under global warming conditions. In this paper, we review related work carried out with the ice sheet model SICOPOLIS (SImulation COde for POLythermal Ice Sheets). As part of a group of eight models, it was applied to a set of standardised experiments for the Greenland ice sheet defined by the SeaRISE (Sea-level Response to Ice Sheet Evolution) initiative. A main finding of SeaRISE was that, if climate change continues unabatedly, the ice sheet may experience a significant decay over the next centuries. However, the spread of results across different models was very large, mainly because of differences in the applied initialisation methods and surface mass balance schemes. Therefore, the new initiative ISMIP6 (Ice Sheet Modeling Intercomparison Project for CMIP6) was launched. An early sub-project is InitMIP-Greenland, within which we showed that two different initialisations computed with SICOPOLIS lead indeed to large differences in the simulated response to schematic future climate scenarios. Further work within ISMIP6 will thus focus on improved initialisation techniques. Based on this, refined future climate simulations for the Greenland ice sheet, driven by forcings derived from AOGCM (atmosphere-ocean general circulation model) simulations, will be carried out. The goal of ISMIP6 is to provide significantly improved estimates of ice sheet contribution to sea level rise in the coming years.

Low Temperature Science 75, 117-129 (2017).

Last modified: 2017-03-29