Constraining GRACE-derived cryosphere-attributed signal to irregularly shaped ice-covered areas

Colgan, W.; Luthcke, S.; Abdalati, W.; Citterio, M.

We use a Monte Carlo approach to invert a spherical harmonic representation of cryosphere-attributed mass change in order to infer the most likely underlying mass changes within irregularly shaped ice-covered areas at nominal 26 km resolution. By inverting a spherical harmonic representation through the incorporation of additional fractional ice coverage information, this approach seeks to eliminate signal leakage between non-ice-covered and ice-covered areas. The spherical harmonic representation suggests a Greenland mass loss of 251 ± 25 Gt a −1 over the December 2003 to December 2010 period. The inversion suggests 218 ± 20 Gt a −1 was due to the ice sheet proper, and 34 ± 5 Gt a −1 (or ~14%) was due to Greenland peripheral glaciers and ice caps (GrPGICs). This mass loss from GrPGICs exceeds that inferred from all ice masses on both Ellesmere and Devon islands combined. This partition therefore highlights that GRACE-derived "Greenland" mass loss cannot be taken as synonymous with "Greenland ice sheet" mass loss when making comparisons with estimates of ice sheet mass balance derived from techniques that sample only the ice sheet proper.

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Colgan, W. / Luthcke, S. / Abdalati, W. / et al: Constraining GRACE-derived cryosphere-attributed signal to irregularly shaped ice-covered areas. 2013. Copernicus Publications.

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