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The treatment of meltwater retention in mass-balance parameterizations of the Greenland ice sheet

  • Ives Janssens (a1) and Philippe Huybrechts (a2)
Abstract

Retention of meltwater runoff by percolation and/or refreezing in the snowpack cannot be neglected when studying the surface mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet. In this paper, we make a detailed comparison of several treatments proposed in the literature to account for this process in large-scale mass-balance parameterizations. The melt on the Greenland ice sheet is calculated with a revised degree-day model using updated datasets of surface elevation and precipitation rate on a 5 km grid. Crucial model parameters are recalibrated by comparing mass-balance characteristics with available observations on a regional basis. We discuss the role of meltwater retention in the light of the overall mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet and its sensitivity to climatic change, and display patterns of effective-retention fractions for the various methods. As a main conclusion it appears that overall results are quite similar for the various models, but that meltwater retention has a large spatial variation not described by the simple treatments. Using the most comprehensive retention model, the sensitivity of the runoff is found to be +0.35 mm ˚C–1 of sea-level change per year. We also present a new map of the different zones (facies) that characterize the accumulation area of the Greenland ice sheet, which is useful for interpreting field data and calibrating satellite observations.

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References
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Annals of Glaciology
  • ISSN: 0260-3055
  • EISSN: 1727-5644
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