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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  18 Aug 2020

18 Aug 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Greenland climate simulations show high Eemian surface melt

Andreas Plach1,2,3, Bo M. Vinther4, Kerim H. Nisancioglu1,5, Sindhu Vudayagiri4, and Thomas Blunier4 Andreas Plach et al.
  • 1Department of Earth Science, University of Bergen and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway
  • 2Department of Meteorology and Geophysics, University of Vienna, Austria
  • 3Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Institute, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • 4Centre for Ice and Climate, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 5Centre for Earth Evolution and Dynamics, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

Abstract. This study presents simulations of Greenland surface melt for the Eemian interglacial period (~130000 to 115000 years ago) derived from regional climate simulations with a coupled surface energy balance model. Surface melt is of high relevance for ice core records because it can influence observations, e.g., lower the preserved total air content (TAC) used to infer past surface elevation. An investigation of surface melt is particularly interesting for warm periods, such as the Eemian interglacial period, with enhanced surface melt. Furthermore, Eemian ice is the deepest and most compressed ice preserved on Greenland, which means that melt layers can not be identified visually. Therefore, a knowledge of potential melt layers would be advantageous. The simulations presented here show Eemian surface melt at all deep Greenland ice core locations. Estimated TAC, based on simulated melt during the Eemian, could explain the lower TAC observations: at the summit of Greenland (GRIP) a refreezing ratio of more than 25 % of the annual accumulation is simulated. As a consequence, elevated levels of surface melt during warm periods should be considered when interpreting Greenland TAC measurements as surface elevation changes. Additionally to estimating the influence of melt on past TAC in ice cores, the simulated surface melt could also be used to identify potential coring locations where Greenland ice might be best preserved.

Andreas Plach et al.

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Andreas Plach et al.

Andreas Plach et al.


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Latest update: 23 Nov 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
In the light of recent large scale melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) – e.g., in the summer of 2012 several days with surface melt on the entire ice sheet (incl. elevations above 3000 m) – we use computer simulations to estimate the amount of melt during a warmer-than-present period of the past. Our simulations show more extensive melt than today. This is important for the interpretation of ice cores which are used to reconstruct the evolution of the ice sheet and the climate.
In the light of recent large scale melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) – e.g., in the...