Uncertainties originating from GCM downscaling and bias correction with application to the MIS-11c Greenland Ice Sheet

Crow, Brian R.; Tarasov, Lev; Schulz, Michael; Prange, Matthias

The Marine Isotope Stage 11c (MIS-11c) interglacial is an enigmatic period characterized by a long duration of relatively weak insolation forcing, but it is thought to have been coincident with a large global sea-level rise of 6–13 m. The configuration of the Greenland Ice Sheet during the MIS-11c interglacial highstand is therefore of great interest. Given the constraints of limited data, model-based analysis may be of use but only if model uncertainties are adequately accounted for. A particularly under-addressed issue in coupled climate and ice-sheet modeling is the coupling of surface air temperatures to the ice model. Many studies apply a uniform “lapse rate” accounting for the temperature differences at different altitudes over the ice surface, but this uniformity neglects both regional and seasonal differences in near-surface temperature dependencies on altitude. Herein we provide the first such analysis for MIS-11c Greenland that addresses these uncertainties by comparing one-way coupled Community Earth System Model (CESM) and ice-sheet model results from several different downscaling methodologies.

In our study, a spatially and temporally varying temperature downscaling method produced the greatest success rate in matching the constraints of limited paleodata, and it suggests a peak ice volume loss from Greenland during MIS-11c of approximately 50 % compared to present day (inline-formula∼ 3.9 m contribution to sea-level rise). This result is on the lower bound of existing data- and model-based studies, partly as a consequence of the applied one-way coupling methodology that neglects some feedbacks. Additional uncertainties are examined by comparing two different present-day regional climate analyses for bias correction of temperatures and precipitation, a spread of initialization states and times, and different spatial configurations of precipitation bias corrections. No other factor exhibited greater influence over the simulated Greenland ice sheet than the choice of temperature downscaling scheme.

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Crow, Brian R. / Tarasov, Lev / Schulz, Michael / et al: Uncertainties originating from GCM downscaling and bias correction with application to the MIS-11c Greenland Ice Sheet. 2024. Copernicus Publications.

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