Design and results of the ice sheet model initialisation experiments initMIP-Greenland: an ISMIP6 intercomparison

H. Goelzer, S. Nowicki, T. Edwards, M. Beckley, A. Abe-Ouchi, A. Aschwanden, R. Calov, O. Gagliardini, F. Gillet-Chaulet, N. R. Golledge, J. Gregory, R. Greve, A. Humbert, P. Huybrechts, J. H. Kennedy, E. Larour, W. H. Lipscomb, S. Le clec'h, V. Lee, M. Morlighem, F. Pattyn, A. J. Payne, C. Rodehacke, M. Rückamp, F. Saito, N. Schlegel, H. Seroussi, A. Shepherd, S. Sun, R. van de Wal and F. A. Ziemen


Earlier large-scale Greenland ice sheet sea-level projections (e.g., those run during the ice2sea and SeaRISE initiatives) have shown that ice sheet initial conditions can have a large effect on the projections and give rise to important uncertainties. The goal of the initMIP-Greenland intercomparison exercise is to compare, evaluate and improve the initialisation techniques used in the ice sheet modelling community and to estimate the associated uncertainties. initMIP-Greenland is the first in a series of ice sheet model intercomparison activities within ISMIP6 (the Ice Sheet Model Intercomparison Project for CMIP6). Two experiments for the large-scale Greenland ice sheet have been designed to allow intercomparison between participating models of 1) the initial present-day state of the ice sheet and 2) the response in two schematic forward experiments. The forward experiments serve to evaluate the initialisation in terms of model drift (forward run without additional forcing) and in response to a large perturbation (prescribed surface mass balance anomaly), and should not be interpreted as sea-level projections. We present and discuss results that highlight the wide diversity of data sets, boundary conditions and initialisation techniques used in the community to generate initial states of the Greenland ice sheet. We find good agreement across the ensemble for the dynamic response to SMB changes in areas where the simulated ice sheets overlap, but in general differences arise due to the initial size of the ice sheet. The spread in model drift is reduced compared to earlier intercomparison exercises.

The Cryosphere (submitted). The Cryosphere Discussions, doi: 10.5194/tc-2017-129 (2017).

Last modified: 2017-07-14