Brief communication: Impact of the recent atmospheric circulation change in summer on the future surface mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet

Delhasse, Alison; Fettweis, Xavier; Kittel, Christoph; Amory, Charles; Agosta, Cécile

Since the 2000s, a change in the atmospheric circulation over the North Atlantic resulting in more frequent blocking events has favoured warmer and sunnier weather conditions over the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) in summer, enhancing the melt increase. This circulation change is not represented by general circulation models (GCMs) of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5), which do not predict any circulation change for the next century over the North Atlantic. The goal of this study is to evaluate the impact of an atmospheric circulation change (as currently observed) on projections of the future GrIS surface mass balance (SMB). We compare GrIS SMB estimates simulated by the regional climate model MAR forced by perturbed reanalysis (ERA-Interim with a temperature correction of inline-formula+1, inline-formula+1.5, and inline-formula+2inline-formulaC at the MAR lateral boundaries) over 1980–2016 to projections of the future GrIS SMB from MAR simulations forced by three GCMs over selected periods for which a similar temperature increase of inline-formula+1, inline-formula+1.5, and inline-formula+2inline-formulaC is projected by the GCMs in comparison to 1980–1999. Mean SMB anomalies produced with perturbed reanalysis over the climatologically stable period 1980–1999 are similar to those produced with MAR forced by GCMs over future periods characterised by a similar warming over Greenland. However, over the 2 last decades (2000–2016) when an increase in the frequency of blocking events has been observed in summer, MAR forced by perturbed reanalysis suggests that the SMB decrease could be amplified by a factor of 2 if such atmospheric conditions persist compared to projections forced by GCMs for the same temperature increase but without any circulation change.

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Delhasse, Alison / Fettweis, Xavier / Kittel, Christoph / et al: Brief communication: Impact of the recent atmospheric circulation change in summer on the future surface mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet. 2018. Copernicus Publications.

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