Brief communication: Reduction in the future Greenland ice sheet surface melt with the help of solar geoengineering

Fettweis, Xavier; Hofer, Stefan; Séférian, Roland; Amory, Charles; Delhasse, Alison; Doutreloup, Sébastien; Kittel, Christoph; Lang, Charlotte; Van Bever, Joris; Veillon, Florent; Irvine, Peter

The Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) will be losing mass at an accelerating pace throughout the 21st century, with a direct link between anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and the magnitude of Greenland mass loss. Currently, approximately 60 % of the mass loss contribution comes from surface melt and subsequent meltwater runoff, while 40 % are due to ice calving. In the ablation zone covered by bare ice in summer, most of the surface melt energy is provided by absorbed shortwave fluxes, which could be reduced by solar geoengineering measures. However, so far very little is known about the potential impacts of an artificial reduction in the incoming solar radiation on the GrIS surface energy budget and the subsequent change in meltwater production. By forcing the regional climate model MAR with the latest CMIP6 shared socioeconomic pathways (SSP) future emission scenarios (SSP245, SSP585) and associated G6solar experiment from the CNRM-ESM2-1 Earth system model, we estimate the local impact of a reduced solar constant on the projected GrIS surface mass balance (SMB) decrease. Overall, our results show that even in the case of a low-mitigation greenhouse gas emissions scenario (SSP585), the Greenland surface mass loss can be brought in line with the medium-mitigation emissions scenario (SSP245) by reducing the solar downward flux at the top of the atmosphere by inline-formula∼ 40 W/minline-formula2 or inline-formula∼ 1.5 % (using the G6solar experiment). In addition to reducing global warming in line with SSP245, G6solar also decreases the efficiency of surface meltwater production over the Greenland ice sheet by damping the well-known positive melt–albedo feedback. With respect to a MAR simulation where the solar constant remains unchanged, decreasing the solar constant according to G6solar in the MAR radiative scheme mitigates the projected Greenland ice sheet surface melt increase by 6 %. However, only more constraining geoengineering experiments than G6solar would allow us to maintain a positive SMB until the end of this century without any reduction in our greenhouse gas emissions.

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Fettweis, Xavier / Hofer, Stefan / Séférian, Roland / et al: Brief communication: Reduction in the future Greenland ice sheet surface melt with the help of solar geoengineering. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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