Verification of model simulated mass balance, flow fields and tabular calving events of the Antarctic ice sheet against remotely sensed observations

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Climate Dynamics, 2013, 40 (11-12), pp. 2617 - 2636
Issue Date:
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The Antarctic ice sheet (AIS) has the greatest potential for global sea level rise. This study simulates AIS ice creeping, sliding, tabular calving, and estimates the total mass balances, using a recently developed, advanced ice dynamics model, known as SEGMENT-Ice. SEGMENT-Ice is written in a spherical Earth coordinate system. Because the AIS contains the South Pole, a projection transfer is performed to displace the pole outside of the simulation domain. The AIS also has complex ice-water-granular material-bedrock configurations, requiring sophisticated lateral and basal boundary conditions. Because of the prevalence of ice shelves, a 'girder yield' type calving scheme is activated. The simulations of present surface ice flow velocities compare favorably with InSAR measurements, for various ice-water-bedrock configurations. The estimated ice mass loss rate during 2003-2009 agrees with GRACE measurements and provides more spatial details not represented by the latter. The model estimated calving frequencies of the peripheral ice shelves from 1996 (roughly when the 5-km digital elevation and thickness data for the shelves were collected) to 2009 compare well with archived scatterometer images. SEGMENT-Ice's unique, non-local systematic calving scheme is found to be relevant for tabular calving. However, the exact timing of calving and of iceberg sizes cannot be simulated accurately at present. A projection of the future mass change of the AIS is made, with SEGMENT-Ice forced by atmospheric conditions from three different coupled general circulation models. The entire AIS is estimated to be losing mass steadily at a rate of ~120 km3/a at present and this rate possibly may double by year 2100. © 2012 The Author(s).
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