Simulation of rapid dynamical changes of the Greenland ice sheet in response to global warming

Ice modelling

The Greenland ice sheet is the second-largest land ice mass on the present-day earth, and its volume amounts to approx. 7.3 metres of sea level equivalent. The current mass balance of the ice sheet is most likely negative with an accelerating trend, even though the uncertainty is still significant. Surface melting increases strongly with rising surface temperatures, which makes the ice sheet very susceptible to future global warming. In addition, recent observations have led to strong concerns that ice-dynamical processes (basal sliding accelerated by surface meltwater, speed-up of ice streams and outlet glaciers) may boost the decay and thus lead to an additional contribution to sea level rise.

In this project, the model Elmer/Ice, which is based on the open-source finite element software package Elmer and solves the full Stokes equations for glacial flow, was set up for the Greenland ice sheet. A new finite element mesh with a highly refined resolution in the critical areas of the major ice streams (Jakobshavn Ice Stream, North-East Greenland Ice Stream, Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier and Helheim Glacier) was created. Simulations were conducted from the present until 100 years into the future for the standardized scenarios provided by the SeaRISE community effort ("Sea-level Response to Ice Sheet Evolution"; http://tinyurl.com/srise-lanl, http://tinyurl.com/srise-umt). For comparison, the same experiments were also run with the shallow ice model SICOPOLIS. We found that the sensitivities of the models Elmer/Ice and SICOPOLIS are similar for the direct global warming scenario (ice sheet response mainly due to more negative surface mass balance), while the sensitivity of Elmer/Ice is about 3 times smaller than that of SICOPOLIS for the ice-dynamic scenario (doubled basal sliding assumed). We have submitted the results to the SeaRISE coordinators for being included in the multi-model assessment.

For more details, please see the

Final report, November 2010 (PDF).

Project members

Principal investigator

Dr. Ralf Greve
Professor
Institute of Low Temperature Science
Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Hakime Seddik
Institute of Low Temperature Science
Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan

Research collaborators

Dr. Olivier Gagliardini
Laboratory of Glaciology and Environmental Geophysics, CNRS
Joseph Fourier University, Grenoble, France

Dr. Fabien Gillet-Chaulet
Laboratory of Glaciology and Environmental Geophysics, CNRS
Joseph Fourier University, Grenoble, France

Dr. Thomas Zwinger
CSC - IT Center for Science
Espoo, Finland
 

Research area

Greenland ice sheet      ~ 60-82°N, 20-70°W
 

Publications

Seddik, H., R. Greve, T. Zwinger, F. Gillet-Chaulet and O. Gagliardini. 2012.
Simulations of the Greenland ice sheet 100 years into the future with the full Stokes model Elmer/Ice.
J. Glaciol. 58 (209), 427-440.
 

Research funding organisation

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).

Project type: Grant-in-Aid for Postdoctoral Research Fellows.
Project number: 20.08821.
Funding period: October 2008 - October 2010.
 

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Last modified: 2012-04-03