Quantifying energy and mass fluxes controlling Godthåbsfjord freshwater input in a 5-km simulation (1991-2012)

P.L. Langen, R.H. Mottram, J.H. Christensen, F. Boberg, C.B. Rodehacke, M. Stendel, D. van As, A.P. Ahlstrøm, J. Mortensen, S. Rysgaard, D. Petersen, K.H. Svendsen, G. Aðalgeirsdóttir, J. Cappelen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Freshwater runoff to fjords with marine-terminating glaciers along the Greenland Ice Sheet margin has an impact on fjord circulation and potentially ice sheet mass balance through increasing heat transport to the glacier front. Here, the authors use the high-resolution (5.5 km) HIRHAM5 regional climate model, allowing high detail in topography and surface types, to estimate freshwater input to Godthåbsfjord in southwest Greenland. Model output is compared to hydrometeorological observations and, while simulated daily variability in temperature and downwelling radiation shows high correlation with observations (typically >0.9), there are biases that impact the results. In particular, overestimated albedo leads to underestimation of melt and runoff at low elevations. In the model simulation (1991-2012), the ice sheet experiences increasing energy input from the surface turbulent heat flux (up to elevations of 2000 m) and shortwave radiation (at all elevations). Southerly wind anomalies and declining cloudiness due to an increase in atmospheric pressure over north Greenland contribute to increased summer melt. This results in declining surface mass balance (SMB), increasing surface runoff, and upward shift of the equilibrium line altitude. SMB is reconstructed back to 1890 though regression between simulated SMB and observed temperature and precipitation, with added uncertainty in the period 1890-1952 because of possible inhomogeneity in the precipitation record. SMB as low as in recent years appears to have occurred before, most notably around 1930, 1950, and 1960. While previous low SMBs were mainly caused by low accumulation, those around 1930 and in the 2000s are mainly due to warming.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3694-3713
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Climate
Volume28
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2015

Keywords

  • Glaciers
  • Heat budgets/fluxes
  • Ice sheets
  • Regional models
  • Surface fluxes
  • Water budget

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Quantifying energy and mass fluxes controlling Godthåbsfjord freshwater input in a 5-km simulation (1991-2012)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this