, Volume 23, Issue 3-4, pp 407-425
Date: 29 Jul 2004

Present And Past Ice-Sheet Mass Balance Simulations For Greenland And The Tibetan Plateau

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Abstract

Net annual mass balance was evaluated for Greenland and the Tibetan Plateau using the meteorological forcings from the NCEP reanalysis and two GCMs (FOAM1.0 and CSM1.4) for modern climate and for different time periods extending back to the beginning of the Holocene (11,000 years ago) for the climate models. The ice-sheet budget calculations, using the degree day methodology, were performed on a finer grid than the model output by interpolating monthly precipitation and surface temperature and correcting the latter to account for the GCM’s smoothed topography. The computed net mass balance for Greenland in the present day is positive and it ranges between 290–300 mm water equivalent (w.e.)/year for the two models, values close to the NCEP estimate of 250 mm/year. The past climate simulations show that the Greenland mass balance has become slightly more positive since the beginning of the Holocene. The Tibetan Plateau’s present-day area average net mass balance is negative and ranges between –1200 and –2000 mm w.e. /year for the two models, values bracketing the NCEP estimate of 1700 mm/year, although the balance is positive over small regions of the plateau consistent with the existence of small ice caps and glaciers. The calculated past mass balance shows an increasingly less negative value for FOAM from 11,000 years ago towards the present and expansion of the positive mass balance areas, mainly due to decreased snow ablation as the summertime insolation decreases with the changes in orbital forcing; in CSM the opposite trend occurs but changes are smaller and less systematic. The result from FOAM shows that the likelihood of ice sheets developing on the Tibetan Plateau may have increased since 11000 years ago, which is consistent with some glacial records.