Effects of uncertainties in the geothermal heat flux distribution on the Greenland Ice Sheet: An assessment of existing heat flow models

I. ROGOZHINA, J. M. HAGEDOORN, Z. MARTINEC, K. FLEMING, O. SOUCEK, R. GREVE and M. THOMAS


Abstract

This study analyzes the uncertainties in the models of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS) that arise from ill-constrained geothermal heat flux (GHF) distribution. Within the context of dynamic GIS modeling, we consider the following questions: (i) What is the significance of the differences between the existing GHF models for the GIS modeling studies? (ii) How well does the modeled GIS controlled by the GHF models agree with the observational data? (iii) What are the relative contributions of uncertainties in GHF and climate forcing to the misfit between the observed and modeled present-day GIS? The results of paleoclimatic simulations suggest that differences in the GHF models have a major effect on the history and resulting present-day state of the GIS. The ice sheet model controlled by any of these GHF forcings reproduces the observed GIS state to only a limited degree and fails to reproduce either the topography or the low basal temperatures measured in southern Greenland. By contrast, the simulation controlled by a simple spatially uniform GHF forcing results in a considerably better fit with the observations, raising questions about the use of the three GHF models within the framework of GIS modeling. Sensitivity tests reveal that the misfit between the modeled and measured temperatures in central Greenland is mostly due to inaccurate GHF and Wisconsin precipitation forcings. The failure of the ice sheet model in southern Greenland, however, is mainly caused by inaccuracies in the surface temperature forcing and the generally overestimated GHF values suggested by all GHF models.


Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface 117 (F2), F02025 (2012).

 
Last modified: 2017-07-12